Q: What is an Auto?

December 17, 2013 12:53 PM

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An auto is also sometimes referred to as an automobile, car, or motorcar. Autos are typically defined as being designed for the primary purpose of transporting people and as having four wheels and seating capacity for at least two individuals. The word "automobile" is derived from an Ancient Greek word for self and a Latin word for movable.

Ferdinand Verbiest is thought to have designed the first working steam-powered vehicle in 1672. The vehicle was not capable of carrying a passenger or driver. In 1769, Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot constructed the first self-propelled mechanical automobile. He was also the inventor of several other types of vehicles, including two steam tractors. Problems with the ability to maintain steam pressure and water supply severely handicapped his designs. Richard Trevithick constructed and then demonstrated a road locomotive in 1801. His locomotive is thought to have been the first steam-powered road vehicle demonstration in history. Because it was not able to maintain ample steam pressure over the long term, it was not capable of practical use. The first internal-combustion engine was designed by the Niepce brothers in 1807 and installed in a boat. The same year, a Swiss inventor also designed an internal combustion engine and used it to power an engine with oxygen and hydrogen. It was not until 1881 that a working 3-wheel auto powered by electricity was demonstrated.

Karl Benz is typically credited with inventing the modern auto. He received a patent for his first engine design in 1879 and constructed his first 3-wheel Motorwagen in 1885. The following year, he began to promote his vehicles, and more than two dozen were sold by 1893. At this time, he introduced his first 4-wheel vehicle as well as a model marketed for its affordability. The first large-scale production of cars did not occur until 1902, when vehicles began to roll off the production line at an Oldsmobile factory in Michigan. The assembly line process had already been in use in the United States and would later be expanded upon in 1914 by Henry Ford. Due to his assembly line approach to car production, Ford was able to move his vehicles off the production line at a much faster rate.

The cost of owning and using a car can include a variety of expenses, including the initial cost to buy the car. Other expenses that may be associated with auto ownership and usage include depreciation, fuel, insurance, repairs and maintenance, taxes, and parking fees. The most common way to purchase an auto is through a car dealership. Both new and used autos can be purchased through car dealerships. Used autos can also be purchased through private parties. If you are interested in the different styles, makes and models of autos, an auto show is a good place to view new cars as well as concept cars.

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