The term automobile is commonly used to refer to any self-propelled machine that uses four wheels. These machines are designed to carry passengers and goods. However, their definition can vary depending on the type of vehicle.
Automobiles were first invented in Germany in the late 1800s. Later, they evolved into a sophisticated technical system that employs thousands of component parts and subsystems. Manufacturers invest in research and development to improve safety, chassis, engine, emission control, and control systems.
In Europe, automobile production soared after World War II. However, automobile sales slowed in 1998 due to the Asian economic crisis. After that, the demand for cars improved. Low interest rates and government subsidies helped boost car sales.
During the early 1900s, bicycle builders in Europe began to convert pedal cycles into motorcycles. The invention of the motorcycle was a breakthrough in automotive knowledge.
The first commercially marketed motorcycles were manufactured in 1894 by two German engineers, Hildebrand and Wolfmuller. By the 1920s, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler formed the so-called “Big Three” auto manufacturers.
Today, the automobile industry has become a global one. Today, there are over 1.4 billion passenger vehicles in the world. Approximately 70 million new passenger cars are produced each year.
Modern automobiles are a result of technological advancements, safety legislation, and competition between manufacturers around the globe. For example, the European Union introduced stricter emissions limits for carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitric oxides.
Aside from increased performance and better handling, automobiles for off-road use need to be durable and capable of surviving extreme operating conditions. These vehicles are also required to be resistant to severe overloads.