Historically, automobiles have been bicycle-like contraptions, but their modern forms were developed in the mid-Victorian era. Early electric cars were heavy and slow. They were eventually replaced by gasoline-powered vehicles.
The term “automobile” came from the Greek prefix “auto” and the Latin word “mobilis”. Modern automobiles are usually four-wheeled and run on an internal combustion engine. Typically, they are designed to carry two to six passengers.
They are also used to transport goods. Heavy vehicles, like big trucks, use diesel fuel. Other fuels include propane, natural gas, and gasoline. In some countries, a mixture of ethanol and gasoline is called gasohol.
Modern automobiles are extremely complex technical systems. They employ thousands of component parts. They also have a steering system, an ignition system, a suspension system, and an emission-control system. These systems help automobile manufacturers improve their performance and safety. They also allow automobile manufacturers to split the market into smaller segments.
In the early 20th century, most automobiles used a four-cycle engine. They also had a chain-and-sprocket drive. This was not as convenient as the steam engine. Steam engines were also heavy. They could not go very fast, and they were hard to control.
The gasoline-powered automobile was introduced into the United States in 1910. It became affordable to middle-class families. This encouraged economic development, and the demand for automobiles grew in the United States.
In the 1950s, the United States began to manufacture more automobiles. Mass production of automobiles helped build the infrastructure that connected cities and suburbs. The demand for automobiles was also driven by higher per capita incomes.