Automobiles are a kind of motor vehicle that runs on road. They have four wheels and can seat one to eight people. Most of the time they are used to transport passengers rather than cargo. They are driven by internal combustion engines and most burn a fuel such as gasoline, diesel or CNG. Some have regenerative brakes that convert energy from braking into electricity to power the engine.
The scientific and technical building blocks for automobiles go back a few hundred years. Francois Isaac de Rivaz, a Swiss inventor, designed the first internal combustion engine (called ICE today) in 1806.
In 1870 Siegfried Marcus built the world’s first car powered by a gasoline two-stroke engine. It had no seats, steering or brakes, but it was a big step forward compared to the horse-drawn carriages of that day.
Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach developed a more advanced version in about 1886. They fitted a three-wheeled cart with a four-stroke engine and they seem to have built around thirty cars from 1890 to 1900 at their Daimler Works or Hotel Hermann.
The best known and most successful automobile was the Model T, which Henry Ford began making in 1910. It was the first affordable automobile for many middle class families. It was also a lot faster than walking or riding a bicycle and could carry more luggage. In addition, it could reach places where public transportation did not go. But automobiles are expensive and they consume a lot of fuel. They also contribute to air pollution, which can have health consequences. Ownership of a car entails costs such as repair, maintenance, insurance, borrowing, parking fees, fuel, depreciation and taxes. Moreover, they can have societal costs such as congestion and the cost of maintaining roads and other infrastructure.