The History of Automobiles


Automobiles are a key part of our daily lives, and it is hard to imagine life without them. There are almost 1.4 billion vehicles on the roads worldwide today and about 70 million new ones are produced each year. This is a huge amount of energy and material used for transporting people & goods. Automobiles can be divided into three types according to their end use – passenger cars, trucks and buses. There are also special vehicles like crane vehicle or road roller for construction sites and milk vans.

The history of automobiles dates back to the late 1600s when Christiaan Huygens invented a type of internal combustion engine sparked by gunpowder. The first steam powered vehicle was built by Nicolas Cugnot in 1771 and the first gasoline powered vehicle was developed by Siegfried Marcus in the 1860s. The first successful automobile to be made in large numbers was Karl Benz’s Benz Motorwagen which was patented on 29 January 1886.

There were many challenges to overcome before the car became the dominant mode of transportation that it is today. The safety of the vehicle was an issue – human drivers who make mistakes, wheels that lose traction under heavy braking and turning forces and collisions with other vehicles or stationary objects all present risks to the driver. Improvements in design and technology such as Antilock Braking System (ABS) and airbags have significantly reduced the number of vehicle crashes. Changes in driver behaviour such as reducing speeding and drink-driving has also contributed to improving safety.

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