Automobiles are vehicles used to transport people or things. They can be either two-wheelers or four-wheelers and have engines that use different fuels like petrol, diesel, electric, steam, etc. People usually prefer the four-wheeler vehicles as they are safer, can accommodate more people and are comfortable.
A modern automobile is a complex technical system with thousands of subsystems that perform specific design functions. These systems result from breakthroughs in science, engineering and technology such as electronic computers, high-strength plastics and new alloys of steel and nonferrous metals. Other important developments include battery ignition, independent suspension and the four-wheel brakes. Many vehicles are now designed with the engine in the front or mid-body behind the front axle, while others have the engine at the rear of the vehicle and are weighted towards the back.
The first automobile was built in the late 1860s by Siegfried Marcus, a German working in Vienna, Austria. He fitted a small gasoline internal combustion engine to an existing hand cart. This was the first vehicle to use gasoline as fuel. The next significant development came in 1885 when Karl Benz of Germany developed and patented the world’s first car with the Otto Cycle gasoline engine. His wife Bertha drove the vehicle over a distance of 106 km (about 65 miles) which was widely publicized and gave automobiles a major push into mass production.
A number of other automobile innovations followed such as the development of a crankcase and cylinder head by Ransom Eli Olds in 1902, the assembly line concept pioneered by Henry Ford in 1910, and airbags and seatbelts that have significantly reduced deaths and injuries. Improvements in the quality of car manufacture have also been significant, with fewer mechanical problems and a more comfortable ride for passengers.