A car, also known as automobile, is a term that is usually used to describe a four-wheeled motor vehicle. Generally, cars run on roads and seat up to eight people. For the most part they serve as a means of transportation for people rather than goods.
Cars started to be used globally during the 20th century. They became an important part of growing economies across the world. The first modern car was born in 1886 when German engineer Karl Benz built the Benz Patent-Motorwagen.
The use of cars became increasingly widespread in the early 20th century. The 1908 Model T was among the first cars available to the public. The model was developed by the Ford Motor Company. Rapid adoption of cars happened in the United States as Americans began to replace animal-drawn vehicles. In Western Europe and other countries, however, it took more time for people to accept cars.
Cars feature controls that allow people to drive them. They also offer passenger comfort and various types of lights. More features have been added to them over the decades, increasing their level of complexity and sophistication, in addition to making them easier to operate and more reliable.
Many modern cars come with rear view reversing cameras, GPS navigation systems, air conditioning, and infotainment systems. Most cars today are powered by an internal combustion engine, which requires burning fossil fuels for operation. Except for electric cars, which were first created in the early era of the automobile, they are propelled by electric motors that use batteries instead of fuels as their energy source.
The use of cars comes with benefits and costs. The private costs include purchasing the automobile, interest payments (if the vehicle is financed), fuel, maintenance and repairs, decrease in value, operating time, insurance, taxes, and parking fees. The societal costs include maintaining roads, traffic congestion, land use, decreasing air quality due to pollution, environmental and public health, and disposing of the car when it reaches the end of its life. Traffic accidents are responsible for most of injury-related deaths around the world.
The benefits to the individual include fast transportation, easy mobility, convenience and independence. The benefits to society include trade and industry advantages, the availability of jobs and source of wealth from the automobile industry, transport provision, public well-being from vacation and journey opportunities, and revenue creation through the taxes.
Cars enable people to move flexibly from one place to another, giving them the ability to work, live, and recreate wherever they want. Currently, around 1 billion cars are on world’s roads, and their numbers are growing very fast, especially in industrialized countries like India and China.