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A car (or automobile) is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transportation. Most definitions of car say they run primarily on roads, seat one to eight people, have four tires, and mainly transport people rather than goods.
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 modern car when German inventor Karl Benz patented his Benz Patent-Motorwagen. 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, but took much longer to be accepted in Western Europe and other parts of the world.
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 2010s 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, began to become commercially available in 2008.
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. The costs to society include maintaining roads, land use, road congestion, air pollution, public health, health care, and disposing of the vehicle at the end of its life. Road traffic accidents are the largest cause of injury-related deaths worldwide.
The personal benefits include on-demand transportation, mobility, independence, and convenience. The 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 the taxes. People’s ability to move flexibly from place to place has far-reaching implications for the nature of societies. There are around 1 billion cars in use worldwide. The numbers are increasing rapidly, especially in China, India and other newly industrialized countries…
In the United States, “from 1975 to 1980, average [car] weight dropped from 1,842 to 1,464 kg (4,060 to 3,228 lb), likely in response to rising gasoline prices” and new fuel efficiency standards. The average new car weighed 1,461 kg (3,221 lb) in 1987 but 1,818 kg (4,009 lb) in 2010, due to modern steel safety cages, anti-lock brakes, airbags, and “more-powerful—if more-efficient—engines.” Heavier cars are safer for the driver, from an accident perspective, but more dangerous for other vehicles and road users. The weight of a car influences fuel consumption and performance, with more weight resulting in increased fuel consumption and decreased performance. The SmartFortwo, a small city car, weighs 750–795 kg (1,655–1,755 lb). Heavier cars include full-size cars, SUVs and extended-length SUVs like the Suburban.
According to research conducted by Julian Allwood of the University of Cambridge, global energy use could be greatly reduced by using lighter cars, and an average weight of 500 kg (1,100 lb) has been said to be well achievable. In some competitions such as the Shell Eco Marathon, average car weights of 45 kg (99 lb) have also been achieved. These cars are only single-seaters (still falling within the definition of a car, although 4-seater cars are more common), but they nevertheless demonstrate the amount by which car weights could still be reduced, and the subsequent lower fuel use (i.e. up to a fuel use of 2560 km/l)…