Automobiles are wheeled vehicles designed to carry passengers and run primarily on roads. They may be powered by a variety of fuels, but gasoline-powered vehicles have dominated the market in recent decades. There are more than 1.4 billion passenger cars in operation worldwide, with about 140 million of them in the United States, and people drive over three trillion miles (five trillion kilometres) each year. The automobile is arguably the most significant invention of the 20th century, with the development of new manufacturing techniques allowing the automobile to become affordable to middle-class families.
The first automobiles were steam-powered and attached to wagons, but they were slow and difficult to control. Gottlieb Daimler fitted a steam engine to a horse carriage in 1885 and later developed his own four-stroke engines. He and Wilhelm Maybach produced about thirty vehicles from 1890 to 1900 at the Daimler Works and Hotel Hermann in Mannheim.
Karl Benz of Germany invented the world’s first automobile with an Otto Cycle petrol engine, and was granted a patent on 29 January 1886. The Benz automobile was much more advanced than previous models, with an accelerator for speed regulation, a battery ignition system, spark plugs and gears.
Any car owner will tell you that they can get far more done in a day when they own their own vehicle, rather than relying on the bus schedule. They also offer more comfort than other forms of transportation and are convenient for long distance trips.