Few inventions have had as profound an impact on world history and life as the automobile. It is hard to imagine a society without them.
An automobile, also called a motorcar or car, is a self-propelled vehicle designed to transport people and carry small cargo. It is usually powered by an internal-combustion engine, and most have four wheels. It differs from a truck, which is designed primarily to carry freight, and a bus, which is larger and usually has more passenger space.
It is estimated that 1.4 billion automobiles are in operation worldwide and more than 70 million new cars are built each year. Passenger cars now account for more than three trillion miles (five trillion kilometres) of travel each year, and the automobile has become one of the largest consumer goods in the world.
The earliest automobile was built by French engineer Nicolas Joseph Cugnot in 1789, followed by a steam-powered car built by British inventor Samuel Brown in 1826 and by an early gasoline engine by German engineer Karl Benz in 1886. The emergence of the modern automobile largely occurred in the United States, where Ransom Eli Olds debuted the assembly-line production of affordable cars in 1902 and Henry Ford introduced mass production of automobiles in the 1910s.
Owning a car gives you the freedom to travel wherever you want, whenever you want. You can avoid the hassle of relying on others for transportation, and you can save money on gas and public transit fees by not driving as much. While it is true that you are subject to the recklessness of other drivers on the road, if you are a careful driver your safety will be increased significantly over riding public transport.