Automobiles are wheeled passenger vehicles that are driven by an internal combustion engine or electric motor. These automobiles are also called cars, buses, trucks and tempos.
An automobile may be a two-wheeled, three-wheeled or four-wheeled vehicle. It can be powered by a petrol, diesel or an electric motor and may also include a generator.
Passenger automobiles are the most common type of vehicles. These include sedans, station wagons and minivans; these vehicles typically have seating for one to seven passengers.
The car industry in the United States is dominated by the General Motors Corporation, which produces a variety of models. Other manufacturers, including Chrysler, Dodge, Ford and Jeep, make other types of vehicles.
Automobiles are categorized into three groups: passenger, commercial and special purpose. Each group has a different use for the vehicle, and they are designed to meet specific transportation needs.
Most modern automobiles use gasoline fueled, piston-type internal-combustion engines. They are usually water-cooled, though air-cooled engines are also used. The engine may be mounted in the front of the vehicle or in the rear.
A transmission is the mechanism that transfers power from the engine to the wheels. In most cases, the transmission is manual, with gears being selected by hand, but automatic transmission can be used.
An automatic transmission can be operated by the driver using a shift lever or a pedal. This is more efficient and convenient than changing gears manually, but it requires a trained operator.
The automobile has several important safety features, such as brakes that reduce speed and friction between the moving surface of each wheel and the stationary one. These technologies can prevent collisions and accidents that would otherwise be fatal.
Automotive technology has been developed to increase fuel efficiency and reduce pollution. Other technological developments include electronic stability control, adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring systems. These systems are increasingly mandatory on more expensive vehicles to meet federal safety standards.
These systems help improve the safety of the driver and passengers by reducing accidents, minimizing fatigue and increasing the effectiveness of emergency vehicles. They can also reduce the need for maintenance.
Another major automotive innovation was the development of the air conditioning system, which has allowed drivers to cool themselves and their passengers during hot weather. This innovation has also allowed motorists to save money on gas.
The invention of the car was a significant milestone in American history, and it opened up new worlds for Americans. The freedom of driving enabled many urban dwellers to explore rural areas previously inaccessible, bringing a variety of recreational opportunities and new jobs to the country.
In addition, the automobile made it easier for teenagers to gain independence and facilitated dating in a new social environment. It was also an early tool for public health and environmental conservation, as well as helping to end rural isolation in the United States.
The automobile industry grew rapidly after World War II, with hundreds of small companies competing for the attention of potential buyers. The development of the self-starter, closed all-steel body, high-compression engine and hydraulic brakes came during this time, along with other key innovations such as syncromesh transmission and low-pressure balloon tires. As market saturation approached, innovation stalled somewhat and the industry began to stagnate.