Automobiles are a major means of transportation. With more than 70 million automobiles sold every year worldwide, they are a vital part of many people’s lives. They allow people to travel to work, school, shopping, and visit friends. They also allow people to enjoy the freedom of traveling at their own pace without being tied down to a bus schedule.
Modern automobiles are complex technical systems with many subsystems that have specific design functions. These systems include the body, chassis, engine, drive train, control systems, safety and emissions-control systems. The branch of engineering that deals with the manufacture of these vehicles is known as automotive engineering.
Automobiles have been in use for hundreds of years. The first steam-powered cars were invented in the late 18th century. Later, gasoline-powered engines became more popular. In the early 1900s, Henry Ford made automobiles more affordable for the average person by using mass production techniques.
Some automobiles are built for racing and have features such as large tires that increase traction on slippery or wet roads. Other automobiles are designed to have a roomy interior for passengers and can be equipped with climate control for comfort during long commutes. Some vehicles are designed to carry goods, such as those used in warehouses and factories, or to perform other tasks, such as a crane vehicle at construction sites or a fork-lift in a warehouse.
The most common type of automobile uses a internal combustion engine to create the power that propels the vehicle. This engine is fueled by burning a fuel such as gasoline (petrol), diesel, or kerosene. The force of the engine’s movement is transmitted to the automobile’s wheels through a transmission system with different gear ratios. This allows for a great deal of tractive effort (the amount of power the car can apply to the road).