An automobile (also called a car, lorry or truck/lorry) is a four-wheeled motor vehicle for transportation of passengers. It is typically propelled by an internal combustion engine fueled with a volatile fuel, such as gasoline. The automobile was invented in the late 1800s and is regarded as one of the most significant inventions of modern times, with an estimated total world production of over 4 billion units by 2025. The modern automobile has many practical applications and has become an indispensable part of daily life in most parts of the world.
The automobile has transformed modern society by allowing people to travel long distances quickly and conveniently. It has increased personal mobility by allowing individuals to travel independently from home, work, schools, recreational facilities and shopping centers. In most European countries, it is now commonplace for the average person to drive over 12,000 kilometres every year.
Modern life would be unimaginable, or at least highly inconvenient, without the automobile. This is due to the fact that most people have jobs and lives that require frequent travel to various locations in order to complete their tasks or meet their obligations. With a private car, this travel can be completed in a relatively short amount of time. It also allows people to visit friends, relatives and leisure activities more easily.
In addition, cars are essential tools for emergency situations. They can provide access to help when someone is sick or injured, and they are useful in helping those who need to attend special events such as weddings or funerals.
Automobiles are designed and built to a high standard of safety, and are subject to rigorous testing. This testing is carried out both by independent laboratories and automakers themselves, and the results are often used to inform design changes. In addition, cars are usually fitted with safety features such as seat belts and airbags to protect the occupants in the event of an accident.
The automobile was first introduced in Europe, but it was American automotive manufacturers that established a dominant position during the early twentieth century. They innovated mass production techniques and, aided by cheap raw materials and a lack of tariff barriers, were able to produce cars at a price that made them affordable for most middle-class Americans.
In the 1910s, a Ford Model T runabout cost less than half of the average annual wage in the United States, making it possible for mass personal “automobility” to take hold. By 1920, most families in the United States owned an automobile.
The modern automobile is a complex technical system with thousands of subsystems that have specific design functions. It has evolved from breakthroughs in technology, including electronic computers, new alloys of metals and plastics, high-strength steels, and advanced battery power technologies. These systems are constantly being improved and modified, enabling automobiles to meet ever-increasing demands for speed, safety, efficiency and comfort. They also need to comply with increasingly strict environmental and social regulations.