Automobiles are cars, trucks, buses and other vehicles that can carry passengers. Most automobiles burn fuel (usually gasoline) to make an internal combustion engine run, which in turn powers the wheels. These engines can also be powered by electricity or other sources. Many cars have a special type of transmission that lets the engine power the wheels at different speeds, depending on the type of load.
Having your own automobile helps you to get to your workplace or home faster, and avoids time consuming and expensive bus or train journeys. It is also useful in case of emergency, for example if your child falls sick or your house burns down. The convenience offered by automobiles makes them very popular with people. However, too many automobiles on the road can cause traffic congestion and pollution. Moreover, the oil used to power automobiles may become scarce in the future.
The history of the automobile began in the late 1600s, when the Dutch inventor Christiaan Huygens invented a type of steam engine fueled by gunpowder. Several attempts at building motorcars were made, but the concept did not become commercially viable until the mid-19th century. Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach improved upon Nikolaus Otto’s internal combustion engine in 1889, with a four-stroke design featuring mushroom-shaped valves that produced more power at lower RPMs. Karl Benz patented the Benz Patent-Motorwagen in 1886 and started a successful company to produce and sell his designs.