Cars are equipped with controls used for driving, passenger comfort and safety, normally operated by a combination of the use of feet and hands, and occasionally by voice on 2000s-era cars. These controls include a steering wheel, pedals for operating the brakes and controlling the car's speed (and, in a manual transmission car, a clutch pedal), a shift lever or stick for changing gears, and a number of buttons and dials for turning on lights, ventilation and other functions. Modern cars' controls are now standardised, such as the location for the accelerator and brake, but this was not always the case. Controls are evolving in response to new technologies, for example the electric car and the integration of mobile communications.
Car - about the word
The word "car" is believed to originate from the Latin word carrus or carrum ("wheeled vehicle"), or the Middle English word carre (meaning cart, from Old North French). In turn, these originated from the Gaulish word karros (a Gallic chariot). The Gaulish language was a branch of the Brythoic language which also used the word Karr; the Brythonig language evolved into Welsh (and Gaelic) where 'Car llusg' (a drag cart or sledge) and 'car rhyfel' (war chariot) still survive.1112 It originally referred to any wheeled horse-drawn vehicle, such as a cart, carriage, or wagon.1314 "Motor car" is attested from 1895, and is the usual formal name for cars in British English.3 "Autocar" is a variant that is also attested from 1895, but that is now considered archaic. It literally means "self-propelled car".15 The term "horseless carriage" was used by some to refer to the first cars at the time that they were being built, and is attested from 1895.16
The word "automobile" is a classical compound derived from the Ancient Greek word autós (?????), meaning "self", and the Latin word mobilis, meaning "movable". It entered the English language from French, and was first adopted by the Automobile Club of Great Britain in 1897.17 Over time, the word "automobile" fell out of favour in Britain, and was replaced by "motor car". It remains a chiefly North American usage.18 An abbreviated form, "auto", was formerly a common way to refer to cars in English, but is now considered old-fashioned. The word is still used in some compound formations in American English, like "auto industry" and "auto mechanic".
Car - about fuel
Most cars in use today are propelled by an internal combustion engine, fueled by deflagration of gasoline or diesel. Both fuels are known to cause air pollution and are also blamed for contributing to climate change and global warming.4 Rapidly increasing oil prices, concerns about oil dependence, tightening environmental laws and restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions are propelling work on alternative power systems for cars. Efforts to improve or replace existing technologies include the development of hybrid vehicles, plug-in electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles. Vehicles using alternative fuels such as ethanol flexible-fuel vehicles and natural gas vehicles are also gaining popularity in some countries. Cars for racing or speed records have sometimes employed jet or rocket engines, but these are impractical for common use.
Oil consumption in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has been abundantly pushed by car growth; the 1985?2003 oil glut even fuelled the sales of low-economy vehicles in OECD countries. The BRIC countries are adding to this consumption; in December 2009 China was briefly the largest car market.35