For other types of motorized vehicles, see Motor vehicle. For other uses, see Car (disambiguation), Automobile (disambiguation), and Cars (disambiguation).
Benz "Velo" model (1894) by German inventor Carl Benz – entered into an early automobile race as a motocycle
Fuel source Gasoline, Diesel, Electric, Hydrogen, Solar energy
Inventor Ferdinand Verbiest
Vehicles in use per country from 2001 to 2007. It shows the significant growth in BRIC.
World map of passenger cars per 1000 people
A car is a wheeled, self-powered motor vehicle used for transportation. Most definitions of the term specify that cars are designed to run primarily on roads, to have seating for one to eight people, to typically have four wheels, and to be constructed principally for the transport of people rather than goods. The year 1886 is regarded as the birth year of the modern car. In that year, German inventor Karl Benz built the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. Cars did not become widely available until the early 20th century. One of the first cars that was accessible to the masses was the 1908 Model T, an American car manufactured by the Ford Motor Company. Cars were rapidly adopted in the United States of America, where they replaced animal-drawn carriages and carts, but took much longer to be accepted in Western Europe and other less-developed parts of the world.
Cars are equipped with controls used for driving, parking, and passenger comfort and safety. New controls have also been added to vehicles, making them more complex. Examples include air conditioning, navigation systems, and in car entertainment. Most cars in use today are propelled by an internal combustion engine, fueled by deflagration of gasoline (also known as petrol) or diesel. Both fuels are known to cause air pollution and are also blamed for contributing to climate change and global warming. Vehicles using alternative fuels such as ethanol flexible-fuel vehicles and natural gas vehicles are also gaining popularity in some countries.
Road traffic accidents are the largest cause of injury-related deaths worldwide. The costs of car usage, which may include the cost of: acquiring the vehicle, repairs and auto maintenance, fuel, depreciation, driving time, parking fees, taxes, and insurance, are weighed against the cost of the alternatives, and the value of the benefits – perceived and real – of vehicle usage. The benefits may include on-demand transportation, mobility, independence and convenience. The costs to society of encompassing car use, which may include those of: maintaining roads, land use, pollution, public health, health care, and of disposing of the vehicle at the end of its life, can be balanced against the value of the benefits to society that car use generates. The societal benefits may include: economy benefits, such as job and wealth creation, of car production and maintenance, transportation provision, society wellbeing derived from leisure and travel opportunities, and revenue generation from the tax opportunities. The ability for humans to move flexibly from place to place has far-reaching implications for the nature of societies.