Automobiles are vehicles that provide transportation services. They are typically four-wheeled, and are usually powered by an internal combustion engine. They are used for passenger and goods transportation. They are considered to be the primary means of transportation in modern society.
Early attempts to develop an automobile date back to the 17th century, when Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot built a self-propelled cart using a steam engine. Although the vehicle was efficient, it had a short range.
A similar contraption was developed during the mid-Victorian era by Ernest Michaux. Bicycle builder Sylvester Howard Roper also created a similar machine.
The first true car, the Motorwagen, was built by Karl Benz in 1886. The vehicle was based on a three-wheeled design. The vehicle had steerable front wheels, a horizontal single-cylinder gasoline engine, and a drive chain to the rear wheel.
The automobile industry grew rapidly during the first half of the twentieth century. It became one of the world’s largest industries. As demand for cars increased, automakers introduced new designs more often. They also started to embrace the sleek iconography of streamlining.
Manufacturers began to improve safety, control, and emission-control systems. They also improved the body, engine, and drivetrain.
By the 1920s, the gasoline-powered automobile had overtaken the streets of Europe and the United States. After World War II, automobile production increased significantly in Japan and Europe. In the United States, manufacturing methods improved the price of cars, making them more accessible to middle class families.