The automobile is a four-wheeled motor vehicle, usually powered by an internal combustion engine that runs on a volatile fuel. It is the most common form of land transportation, with an estimated 1.4 billion cars currently in use worldwide. Automobiles are constructed to provide safety, comfort, and convenience for passengers. They are designed with an assortment of features such as air conditioning, seatbelts, windows, and stereos. Some modern vehicles are equipped with navigation systems, electric power steering, and computer-controlled suspension.
The car is a complex technical system with many design subsystems, some of which have developed from breakthroughs in technology and others that are the result of environmental and safety legislation and competition between manufacturers worldwide. The basic components of an automobile are the chassis, bodywork, drive train, electrical equipment, and service devices. The engine can be gasoline, diesel fuel, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), natural gas, or battery electric. The drivetrain comprises the transmission and axles, which transmit torque from the engine to the wheels.
Automakers are constantly developing new models and introducing improvements to existing ones. Some of these improvements are based on advances in materials, such as high-strength plastics and alloys of steel and nonferrous metals. Other improvements are the results of technological breakthroughs such as electronic computers, advanced control systems, and improved manufacturing processes. The latter include the application of computer-aided engineering (CAE) and CAD, which allow complex shapes to be designed quickly and efficiently.
Owning a car opens up a world of possibilities. It gives you the freedom to go where and when you want, without worrying about public transport schedules or other people’s hygiene issues in cramped busses. It also means that you can easily work from home, and have the flexibility to choose where you want to live in relation to your job.
Cars can also take you to places that would be impractical or impossible to reach by foot or by public transport, such as the countryside or far-flung cities. Having a car makes it easy to visit friends and family who live far away, and to travel for business or vacation.
There are a wide variety of car models available in the marketplace today, from super-efficient hybrids to raucous V8s. Some manufacturers are trying to appeal to a broad market, while others target niche markets. Whichever model you choose, it is important to consider the specific driving needs of your family and lifestyle before making a purchase.