Automobiles are self-propelled motor vehicles that run on four wheels and have an internal combustion engine fueled most often by gasoline, a liquid petroleum product. The word automobile comes from the Latin term autos + mobile, and is derived from the verb “mobilis,” which means “to move on the road.”
Passenger cars are the most common type of automobile, with around 1.4 billion in operation worldwide and nearly 70 million new units built each year worldwide. Other types of automobiles include trucks, vans, buses, limousines, and ambulances.
Special purpose vehicles are also a type of automobile, designed to perform specific tasks such as cranes at construction sites or fork-lifts in warehouses. They can also be used to rescue people from accidents or incidents.
The scientific and technological building blocks of the modern automobile date back several hundred years, beginning with the invention of the first internal combustion engine sparked by gunpowder by German inventor Christiaan Huygens in the late 1600s. Other types of engines, including steam, battery-powered electric power, and gasoline, followed.
During the 20th century, cars became widely available and replaced horse-drawn carriages in many parts of the world. One of the first affordable cars was the Model T, manufactured by Henry Ford in 1908.
Cars have become an essential part of our everyday lives and are a critical element in the global economy. As a result, they have developed a wide range of features and controls. These include air conditioning, rear-reversing cameras, navigation systems, in-car entertainment, and more.