A vehicle used to transport people, cargo or a combination of both. It is equipped with an internal combustion engine which uses fuel to explode in the cylinder and push the piston down. This action causes the wheels to turn. Automobiles are driven by gasoline, diesel and kerosene and also use electricity to power some of their features. There are many different designs of automobiles such as front-wheel drive and independent suspension for all four wheels. Some automobiles are designed for specific purposes such as trucks for carrying containers and special purpose vehicles such as ambulances.

The scientific and technological building blocks of the automobile go back several hundred years. In the late 1600s, Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens invented a kind of internal combustion engine sparked by gunpowder. Toward the end of the 19th century Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz developed the first modern automobiles. They both made a series of improvements.

By 1920, the car had become one of the most important forces for change in American life. It was the largest industry in the country by value and provided a significant portion of the country’s employment. It was the major consumer of petroleum products and the chief customer of steel and a host of other industrial products.

But market saturation coincided with technical stagnation. The basic design of the Model T and its successors remained essentially unchanged from 1929 to 1950, with only minor improvements such as the self-starter, the closed all-steel body and hydraulic brakes.

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