401 Gridlock.jpg
Cars and trucks driving on a divided highway, Highway 401 in Ontario, Canada
Fuel sourceGasoline, electricity, diesel, natural gas, hydrogen, solar, vegetable oil
InventorKarl Benz[1]

A car (or automobile) is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transportation. Most definitions of cars say that they run primarily on roads, seat one to eight people, have four wheels, and mainly transport people rather than goods.[2][3]

Cars came into global use during the 20th century, and developed economies depend on them. The year 1886 is regarded as the birth year of the car when German inventor Karl Benz patented his Benz Patent-Motorwagen.[1][4][5] Cars became widely available in the early 20th century. One of the first cars accessible to the masses was the 1908 Model T, an American car manufactured by the Ford Motor Company. Cars were rapidly adopted in the US, where they replaced animal-drawn carriages and carts.[6] In Europe and other parts of the world, demand for automobiles did not increase until after World War II.[6]

Cars have controls for driving, parking, passenger comfort, and a variety of lights. Over the decades, additional features and controls have been added to vehicles, making them progressively more complex. These include rear-reversing cameras, air conditioning, navigation systems, and in-car entertainment. Most cars in use in the early 2020s are propelled by an internal combustion engine, fueled by the combustion of fossil fuels. Electric cars, which were invented early in the history of the car, became commercially available in the 2000s and are predicted to cost less to buy than gasoline cars before 2025.[7][8] The transition from fossil fuels to electric cars features prominently in most climate change mitigation scenarios,[9] such as Project Drawdown's 100 actionable solutions for climate change.[10]

There are costs and benefits to car use. The costs to the individual include acquiring the vehicle, interest payments (if the car is financed), repairs and maintenance, fuel, depreciation, driving time, parking fees, taxes, and insurance.[11] The costs to society include maintaining roads, land use, road congestion, air pollution, public health, healthcare, and disposing of the vehicle at the end of its life. Traffic collisions are the largest cause of injury-related deaths worldwide.[12]

Personal benefits include on-demand transportation, mobility, independence, and convenience.[13] Societal benefits include economic benefits, such as job and wealth creation from the automotive industry, transportation provision, societal well-being from leisure and travel opportunities, and revenue generation from taxes. People's ability to move flexibly from place to place has far-reaching implications for the nature of societies.[14] There are around 1 billion cars in use worldwide. Car usage is increasing rapidly, especially in China, India, and other newly industrialized countries.[15]

  1. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference stein was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Fowler, H.W.; Fowler, F.G., eds. (1976). Pocket Oxford Dictionary. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0198611134.
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference OEDmotrcar was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  4. ^ "1885–1886. The first automobile". Daimler. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  5. ^ Garrison, Ervan G. (2018). History of Engineering and Technology: Artful Methods. Routledge. p. 272. ISBN 978-1351440486.
  6. ^ a b "Automobile History". Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  7. ^ "EV Price Parity Coming Soon, Claims VW Executive". CleanTechnica. 9 August 2019. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  8. ^ "Electric V Petrol - British Gas". Archived from the original on 18 October 2019. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Factcheck: How electric vehicles help to tackle climate change". Carbon Brief. 13 May 2019. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  10. ^ "Electric Cars @ProjectDrawdown #ClimateSolutions". Project Drawdown. 6 February 2020. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  11. ^ "Car Operating Costs". RACV. Archived from the original on 7 October 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2009.
  12. ^ Peden, Margie; Scurfield, Richard; Sleet, David; Mohan, Dinesh; Hyder, Adnan A.; Jarawan, Eva; Mathers, Colin, eds. (2004). World report on road traffic injury prevention. World Health Organization. ISBN 92-4-156260-9. Retrieved 24 June 2008.
  13. ^ Cite error: The named reference setright was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  14. ^ Jakle, John A.; Sculle, Keith A. (2004). Lots of Parking: Land Use in a Car Culture. University of Virginia Press. ISBN 0-8139-2266-6.
  15. ^ "Automobile Industry Introduction". Plunkett Research. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011.

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