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".
More unusual configurations
Common cylinder configurations include the straight or inline configuration, the more compact V configuration, and the wider but smoother flat or boxer configuration. Aircraft engines can also adopt a radial configuration, which allows more effective cooling. More unusual configurations such as the H, U, X, and W have also been used.
Multiple cylinder engines have their valve train and crankshaft configured so that pistons are at different parts of their cycle. It is desirable to have the piston's cycles uniformly spaced (this is called even firing) especially in forced induction engines; this reduces torque pulsations21 and makes inline engines with more than 3 cylinders statically balanced in its primary forces. However, some engine configurations require odd firing to achieve better balance than what is possible with even firing. For instance, a 4-stroke I2 engine has better balance when the angle between the crankpins is 180° because the pistons move in opposite directions and inertial forces partially cancel, but this gives an odd firing pattern where one cylinder fires 180° of crankshaft rotation after the other, then no cylinder fires for 540°. With an even firing pattern the pistons would move in unison and the associated forces would add.
Multiple crankshaft configurations do not necessarily need a cylinder head at all because they can instead have a piston at each end of the cylinder called an opposed piston design. Because fuel inlets and outlets are positioned at opposed ends of the cylinder, one can achieve uniflow scavenging, which, as in the four-stroke engine is efficient over a wide range of engine speeds. Thermal efficiency is improved because of a lack of cylinder heads. This design was used in the Junkers Jumo 205 diesel aircraft engine, using two crankshafts at either end of a single bank of cylinders, and most remarkably in the Napier Deltic diesel engines. These used three crankshafts to serve three banks of double-ended cylinders arranged in an equilateral triangle with the crankshafts at the corners. It was also used in single-bank locomotive engines, and is still used in marine propulsion engines and marine auxiliary generators.
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