Automobiles are one of the most common means of transportation in the world. Today, passenger cars account for about 1.4 billion vehicles worldwide. One-quarter of these cars are manufactured in the United States. People travel three trillion miles every year in automobiles. Automobiles are complex technical systems, containing thousands of parts. Throughout the years, technological advances and new technology have allowed automobile manufacturers to create new vehicles and improve existing ones. In addition, competition among automobile manufacturers has led to a greater diversity in the design of vehicles.
Automobiles differ in how they handle, with some models offering more stability than others. For example, a motorcycle with a longer wheelbase has a lower centre of gravity, which makes it easier to corner. However, a motorcycle with a short wheelbase is unstable and will lift its opposite wheel off the road.
Motorcycles do not meet the definition of an automobile, even if they have four wheels and a passenger compartment. The definition of an automobile is complicated, so a motorcycle isn’t an automobile, but it can be considered one. Many court cases have ruled that motorcycles aren’t automobiles because they don’t have four wheels or the capacity to carry many people.
The invention of the automobile was a product of the broader need for a self-propelled vehicle. Motorcycles were a natural progression from the self-propelled bicycle. In 1884, Edward Butler developed the first commercial three-wheeler, which featured a horizontal single-cylinder gasoline engine and steerable front wheels. The rear wheel was driven by a drive chain.