Regardless of their origins, automobiles have played a significant role in modern society. They are the world’s most common form of transportation, and they are an essential part of developed economies. Whether you want to drive to work, to the mall, or across the country, automobiles can help you get where you need to go.
In the first half of the 19th century, steam-powered road vehicles were common. These vehicles included steam buses, phaetons, and steam cars. Although these vehicles could travel at high speeds, they had limited range and were inconvenient to use.
In the late 1880s, German inventor Carl Benz received a patent for an internal combustion engine, a breakthrough that sparked the automobile industry. He later invented the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, which was the first four-wheeled car.
Since then, modern automobiles have become highly sophisticated technical systems. They feature numerous subsystems with specific design functions. The engine is the heart of the automobile, but there are many more aspects to the automobile, including its wheels, body, steering, brakes, and suspension.
The automotive industry is one of the largest in the world. Today, there are 1.4 billion passenger cars worldwide. During the early 20th century, the automobile was a luxury that only the wealthy could afford. But the automobile industry was revolutionized by the introduction of manufacturing techniques, making them affordable for middle-class families.
In 1908, the Ford Motor Company produced the first affordable car for the masses. The Model T was designed by Henry Ford. The factory also installed assembly lines, which reduced the price of the car.