An automobile is a wheeled passenger vehicle that carries its own motor. Different types of automobiles include cars, buses, trucks, and vans. Some include motorcycles in the category, but cars are the most typical automobiles. The term automobile is derived from Greek auto- ("self") and Latin mobilis ("movable"), referring to the fact that it "moves by itself." Earlier terms for automobile include motorwagen, and horseless carriage. Although the term "car" is presumed to be derived through the shortening of the term "carriage", the word has its origin before 1300 A.D. in English as, "carr"—derived from similar words in French and much earlier Greek words—for a vehicle that moves, especially on wheels, that was applied to chariots, small carts, and later—to carriages that carried more people and larger loads. As of 2005 there were 600 million cars worldwide (93 cars per 1,000 persons).
The automobile was hailed as an environmental improvement over horses when it was first introduced in the 1880s. Before its introduction, in New York City alone, more than 1,800 tons of manure had to be removed from the streets daily, although the manure was used as natural fertilizer for crops and to build top soil. In 2006, the automobile is recognized as one of the primary sources of world-wide air pollution and a cause of substantial noise pollution and adverse health effects.
The automobile powered by the Otto gasoline engine was invented in Germany by Karl Benz in 1885. Benz was granted a patent dated 29 January 1886 in Mannheim for that automobile. Even though Benz is credited with the invention of the modern automobile, several other German engineers worked on building automobiles at the same time. In 1886, Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach in Stuttgart patented the first motor bike, built and tested in 1885, and in 1886 they built a converted horse-drawn stagecoach. In 1870, German-Austrian inventor Siegfried Marcus assembled a motorized handcart, though Marcus's vehicle didn't go beyond the experimental stage.
Internal Combustion Engine Powered Vehicles
In 1806 François Isaac de Rivaz, a Swiss, designed the first internal combustion engine (sometimes abbreviated "ICE" today). He subsequently used it to develop the world's first vehicle to run on such an engine that used a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen to generate energy. The design was not very successful, as was the case with the British inventor, Samuel Brown, and the American inventor, Samuel Morey, who produced vehicles powered by clumsy internal combustion engines about 1826.
Etienne Lenoir produced the first successful stationary internal combustion engine in 1860, and within a few years, about four hundred were in operation in Paris. About 1863, Lenoir installed his engine in a vehicle. It seems to have been powered by city lighting-gas in bottles, and was said by Lenoir to have "travelled more slowly than a man could walk, with breakdowns being frequent." Lenoir, in his patent of 1860, included the provision of a carburettor, so liquid fuel could be substituted for gas, particularly for mobile purposes in vehicles. Lenoir is said to have tested liquid fuel, such as alcohol, in his stationary engines; but it doesn't appear that he used them in his own vehicle. If he did, he most certainly didn't use gasoline, as this was not well-known and was considered a waste product.
The next innovation occurred in the late 1860s, with Siegfried Marcus, a German working in Vienna, Austria. He developed the idea of using gasoline as a fuel in a two-stroke internal combustion engine. In 1870, using a simple handcart, he built a crude vehicle with no seats, steering, or brakes, but it was remarkable for one reason: it was the world's first internal-combustion-engine-powered vehicle fueled by gasoline. It was tested in Vienna in September of 1870 and put aside. In 1888 or 1889, he built a second automobile, this one with seats, brakes, and steering, and included a four-stroke engine of his own design. That design may have been tested in 1890. Although he held patents for many inventions, he never applied for patents for either design in this category.
The four-stroke engine already had been documented and a patent was applied for in 1862 by the Frenchman Beau de Rochas in a long-winded and rambling pamphlet. He printed about three hundred copies of his pamphlet and they were distributed in Paris, but nothing came of this, with the patent application expiring soon afterward—and the pamphlet disappearing into total obscurity. In fact, its existence mostly was unknown and Beau de Rochas never built a single engine.
Most historians agree that Nikolaus Otto of Germany built the world's first four-stroke engine although his patent was voided. He knew nothing of Beau de Rochas's patent or idea, and came upon the idea entirely on his own. In fact, he began thinking about the concept in 1861, but abandoned the concept until the mid-1870s.
There is some evidence, although not conclusive, that Christian Reithmann, an Austrian living in Germany, had built a four-stroke engine entirely on his own by 1873. Reithmann had been experimenting with internal combustion engines as early as 1852.
In 1883, Edouard Delamare-Deboutteville and Leon Malandin of France installed an internal combustion engine powered by a tank of city gas on a tricycle. As they tested the vehicle, the tank hose came loose, resulting in an explosion. In 1884, Delamare-Deboutteville and Malandin built and patented a second vehicle. This one consisted of two four-stroke, liquid-fueled engines mounted on an old four-wheeled horse cart. The patent, and presumably the vehicle, contained many innovations, some of which wouldn't be used for decades. However, during the vehicle's first test, the frame broke apart, the vehicle literally "shaking itself to pieces," in Malandin's own words. No more vehicles were built by the two men. Their venture went completely unnoticed and their patent unexploited. Knowledge of the vehicles and their experiments was obscured until years later.
Supposedly in the late 1870s, an Italian named Murnigotti patented the idea of installing an internal combustion engine on a vehicle, although there is no evidence that one was built. In 1884, Enrico Bernardi, another Italian, installed an internal combustion engine on his son's tricycle. Although merely a toy, it is said to have operated somewhat successfully in one source, but another says the engine's power was too feeble to make the vehicle move.
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