Automobiles are four-wheeled self-propelled vehicles, typically fueled by gasoline. They are used to transport passengers and goods. During the 20th century, automobiles became common in Europe and North America. However, the automobile has a long history. It was invented in the late 1800s in Germany.
After World War II, the demand for cars increased in Europe. Car manufacturing began to spread to other parts of the world. In the United States, the Model T made automobiles affordable for middle class families.
By 1920, the gasoline-powered automobile had overtaken the streets of Europe. The “Big Three” automobile companies, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, became the dominant car manufacturers in the world.
Automobiles are a crucial part of the modern economy. They are a complex technical system involving thousands of components. Automotive industry is one of the largest industries in the world.
Initially, the term automobile was a misnomer, and the automobiles were bicycle-like contraptions. Early motorcycles were velocipedes that were modified with engines. Eventually, more inventors attempted to design better motorcycles.
By the late 19th century, the first automobiles were steam-powered road vehicles. Steam-powered vehicles included phaetons, steam cars, and steam buses. Steam engines were limited in range and in starting.
During the mid-Victorian era, a similar machine was designed by Ernest Michaux, a bicycle builder. The Stout Scarab was a streamlined beetle-like shape with a rear engine that could carry passengers.
The Stout Scarab was a precursor to the minivan. Several years later, a bicycle builder named Sylvester Howard Roper created another similar machine.