Automobiles are powered by internal combustion engines that burn fuel (usually gasoline) to generate the energy needed for propulsion. This energy is transmitted to the wheels via a transmission system. Many modern automobiles have systems that control pollution, as well as safety and comfort features. Various factors affect the design of an automobile, including the choice of engine, arrangement of parts, weight and size, suspension, and the use of computer technology to improve performance.
The first cars were essentially horse-drawn carriages with engines added to them, but today the modern automobile is a complex machine that has changed the world in many ways. The automobile has allowed people to travel long distances for work or leisure, and entire economies have been structured around its ability to provide flexible transportation for goods and services. In addition to its direct impact on society, the automobile has also given rise to a variety of economic interests and activities, such as auto manufacturing, insurance, and sales.
While Henry Ford may have popularized the automobile, several other inventors had important contributions to its development. Siegfried Marcus, working in Vienna in the late 1860s, developed the idea of using gasoline as fuel for an internal combustion engine. He built a crude vehicle without seats, steering, or brakes, but his invention was a milestone in the history of the automobile.
Edouard Delamare-Deboutteville and Leon Malandin of France installed an internal combustion engine on a bicycle, but their prototype crashed when the tank hose burst. In 1883, Edouard’s brother Claude developed a more successful three-wheeled vehicle with an improved chassis and four-stroke engine. The engine was cooled by liquid rather than air, and the vehicle could travel at speeds up to 80 km/h.
Benz’s patent-Motorwagen used a four-stroke gasoline-fueled internal combustion engine, and he began to manufacture these vehicles in a factory setting. Gottlieb Daimler also fitted a four-stroke engine to a carriage in 1886, and his automobiles had several innovations.
Many factors influence the design of an automobile, and the car’s intended use plays a role in its engineering. Automobiles designed for off-road use require durable, simple systems that can withstand severe overloads and extreme operating conditions. Sports cars, on the other hand, need enhanced driving performance and advanced suspensions for comfort at high speeds.
Cost is also a major factor in automobile design. A car must be able to meet consumer demand while remaining profitable for the manufacturer. This has led to standardization of certain components, such as tire pressure monitoring and stability control systems, which have become mandatory on many new vehicles. Other systems, such as blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist, are becoming more affordable as they reach a wider range of price points.
The automobile has greatly influenced life in the modern world, and continues to have significant effects on our environment. The automobile has encouraged sprawl, a pattern of low-density urban development that degrades the landscape and creates traffic congestion. In addition, the automobile has provided flexibility and independence of movement to individuals, while stimulating many businesses, such as auto parts manufacturers.