Automobiles, which are wheeled passenger vehicles that have a motor and typically seat one to seven people, play a major role in society today. According to the World Motor Vehicle Production report, there are more than 590 million automobiles in use worldwide (that’s one for every 11 people!). The branches of engineering that focus on the manufacture and technology of these vehicles are known as automotive engineering.
Automobiles come in all shapes and sizes, for many different purposes. They can be used to travel long distances, such as from cities to suburbs or rural areas, where public transportation is less accessible. They can also be used for commuting to work and school, shopping, and visiting family and friends. Some vehicles are designed for sport, while others are built to carry heavy loads and are called trucks or SUVs.
The earliest automobiles were steam or electric, but they quickly evolved into gas-powered models. Credit for the first true automobile is often given to Karl Benz, an engineer from Germany who began developing his design in 1885. Henry Ford came later and revolutionized the way cars were made by using the assembly line, enabling many more people to afford them.
The modern automobile is designed with many factors in mind, including safety, fuel economy, and size. It is also required to meet specifications for pollution control components. The design of an automobile involves balancing these factors, and compromises are often needed to satisfy all of them.