Automobiles provide the mobility and flexibility of use demanded by an enormous variety of lifestyles and industries. These include police, ambulance, fire, and utility services; transportation of goods and people; vacation travel; dining; shopping; and other personal uses.
The modern automobile is a sophisticated system composed of thousands of individual parts, arranged into several semi-independent systems that perform different functions to make the car run and reduce noise and pollution. These include the engine, the transmission, and the body.
An important part of an automobile’s design is the selection and arrangement of components for various uses, based on several factors such as cost, ease of operation, safety, comfort, and convenience. For example, an automobile used for local driving may have a smaller and more fuel-efficient engine than a sports car.
Most cars have independent front suspension, which enables the wheels to absorb shocks and variations in the road surface and improve handling and comfort. More recent vehicles have independent rear suspension to enhance safety and handling at high speeds.
A wide range of automobiles, including sedans, coupes, vans, sport cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs are available. Some have a gasoline-electric hybrid engine that allows the vehicle to be operated in electric mode when the engine is not running. These models, which have become more common in the past two decades, can be powered by an electric motor or a traditional gasoline engine. They are generally less expensive than conventional automobiles and can achieve better fuel efficiency.