The Basics of Automobiles

Automobiles are four-wheeled vehicles designed for passenger transportation. Most automobiles use an internal combustion engine that burns a volatile fuel to drive the wheels, and some also have electric motors. Automobiles are powered by a variety of fuels, most commonly gasoline (called petrol or gas in American English). The branches of engineering that deal with the design, manufacture and operation of automobiles are known as automotive engineering.

Inventors have tried to make cars for centuries. Some of the earliest worked, but they were heavy and slow to use. In the late 1800s, Karl Benz developed a much faster and more reliable car based on the internal combustion engine. By the 1920s, cars had replaced horse-drawn carriages on most roads in Europe and the United States.

Today, modern life would seem impossible without automobiles. About 1.4 billion passenger cars are in use worldwide, with three trillion miles driven every year on average. Many families own two or more, and many people have work-related vehicles.

The cheapest and most popular vehicles are compact sedans like the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. They offer excellent safety and fuel efficiency, and they’re often roomy enough for a family of four. Some sporty cars like the Mazda Miata are available at a lower price, and they’re fun to drive. The minivan is another good choice for a family, and it’s easy to find one that matches the needs of your family.