Automobiles are wheeled passenger vehicles that are powered by an internal combustion engine, such as a gasoline or diesel engine. There are many different types of automobiles, including motorcycles, scooters, jeeps, trucks and buses.
The modern automobile is the result of a series of scientific and technological advances, most notably an internal combustion engine that was invented in the late 1600s by Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens. This was followed by the invention of gasoline-powered engines in the 1870s.
Before the development of the automobile, there had been a variety of attempts to build vehicles using steam or electric power. However, these methods were inconvenient to use, had limited ranges and did not have easy recharging stations.
In 1885, Karl Benz of Germany developed a two-wheeled vehicle that was powered by an Otto Cycle petrol engine. He also invented an accelerator for speed regulation, a battery ignition system, a spark plug, a clutch, and a gear shift. Benz was granted a patent for this vehicle on 29 January 1886 in Mannheim, Germany.
After Benz’s success, several other engineers in Europe and Japan began building and patenting their own versions of automobiles. In the United States, Thomas Rickett of New York attempted to build a steam car in 1860.
Other early motor cars were built and tested by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach in Stuttgart, Germany, as well as by Santler from Malvern, England. They were one-offs, though.
Another important factor in the development of the automobile was the advent of the assembly line. This process allowed manufacturers to produce cars at a much faster rate and for a lower cost than before.
The process of making a new model takes between three and five years from the time a company starts work on a design to the time it is ready to be assembled. During this period the automobile company tries to understand public preferences and needs, and develops ideas that will appeal to them.
When an idea is developed, designers use computer-aided design equipment to generate concept drawings of the proposed automobile. These drawings help them visualize how the design will look when it is completed. Styling and aerodynamic experts then review the designs to make sure they will fit the public’s preferences and are safe for road use.
During the development of a new automobile, engineers are often called in to improve the safety features, such as the design and construction of airbags and other occupant-protection systems. These improvements have helped to reduce the number of deaths and injuries that result from vehicle crashes.
Almost every aspect of the car is designed to improve its safety, from the frame to the braking system and transmission. For example, a new vehicle typically has antilock brakes and traction control that help the driver keep control in adverse conditions. It can also have radar or sonar detectors mounted on the rear to warn the driver if he is about to reverse into an obstacle or pedestrian.