The word “automobile” is a combination of two Greek words: “auto” (self) and “mobilis” (“move”). It refers to self-propelled passenger vehicles with four or more wheels. Cars are a key part of many families’ lives. They give people the freedom to move around without relying on friends or family, or having to schedule appointments they can’t miss. The automobile also allows people to visit different parts of the city or country more easily, and it can open up new work possibilities.
The automobile is a complex technical system, and each subsystem has its own design functions. Its complexity has increased over time due to breakthroughs in technology, such as electronic computers and high-strength plastics, and advances in alloy steels and nonferrous metals. Its safety, performance and handling characteristics are influenced by government and industry regulations.
The first automobiles were developed in Europe and America in the late 1860s and early 1900s. For example, Siegfried Marcus built a crude vehicle with a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine in 1870. In 1904, Ransom E Olds introduced a one-cylinder, three-horsepower, tiller-steered automobile that was more advanced than Marcus’s model, but it sold for only $675, less than the average annual wage in the United States. This brought mass personal automobile transportation within reach of middle-class Americans. The production methods that Henry Ford innovated allowed the Model T to be manufactured at a price lower than ever before, and this opened the way for American cars to dominate global markets.