Automobiles are vehicles that are designed primarily to transport people, and are commonly propelled by internal combustion engines using a volatile fuel. Modern automobiles are complex technical systems with thousands of subsystems that have specific design functions. Research and development engineers continually seek to improve the body, chassis, engine, drivetrain, control systems, safety, and emissions-control systems of existing cars.
Earlier records often credit Karl Benz, a German engineer, with creating the first true automobile around 1885/1886. Gottlieb Daimler, a fellow engineer who lived in the same city, may also have built early automobiles, although he worked independently of Benz and seems not to have known of his work.
In the beginning, some cars were powered by electricity, but most used an internal combustion engine that burned gasoline, diesel or kerosene to turn the wheels. The invention of the assembly line, debuted by Ransom Eli Olds at his Oldsmobile factory in 1902, allowed automobile production to expand and become affordable for many more Americans.
The advantages of having a car include freedom to travel wherever you want, without having to rely on public transportation or friends. You can move for new jobs, or visit family members more easily. Automobiles are much faster than walking or riding a bicycle, and can carry more people and luggage. Four-wheel drive “off road” automobiles can go places that are difficult for other vehicles to reach.
The disadvantages of having an automobile include traffic congestion and air pollution, especially if too many cars use the same roads. Automobile accidents can be deadly. Some cars have a high center of gravity, making them unstable at high speeds. Human drivers make mistakes, and some automobiles have wheels that lose traction under certain conditions.