Automobiles are wheeled motor vehicles used for transporting passengers. They usually have four wheels and are powered by internal combustion engines fueled most often by gasoline (petrol), but sometimes by other liquid fuels or electricity. They are considered to be the most widespread of all modern technologies, and are one of the largest industries in the world. The branches of engineering that deal with the design, manufacture and technology of automobiles are known as automotive engineering.

The modern automobile is the result of a long history of inventions and improvements in transportation. People have been trying to find ways to travel faster and more efficiently for thousands of years. In the nineteenth century, Karl Benz invented the modern automobile. He used a four-stroke type of internal combustion engine to power his Benz Patent-Motorwagen in 1886. The automobile revolutionized transportation in the United States and around the world. It gave people more personal freedom and increased access to jobs and services. It also brought new industries that provided parts and fuel for automobiles and other forms of transport. It also created new leisure activities and services such as hotels, restaurants and fast food stores. It also led to the creation of highways, which made cities and rural areas more accessible.

Although the automobile has many benefits, it also causes problems. For example, it can create traffic congestion and lead to air pollution. The emissions from automobiles also contribute to global climate change. Fortunately, many places have public transportation systems that can get people to where they need to go more quickly than automobiles can.

Automobiles come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to meet different needs. For example, some are designed to carry cargo while others are built for passenger comfort and sportiness. There are also electric cars that run on electricity rather than gasoline. Generally, the larger an automobile is, the more expensive it will be to purchase and operate.

Many of the earliest automobiles were designed and built in Europe. However, the United States had a huge land area and a population that was more spread out than in Europe, which meant that there was great demand for automobiles. In addition, American manufacturers were pioneers in using assembly lines to mass produce cars at a low price. By the 1920s, the average automobile in the United States cost less than a year’s salary for a middle-class family.

After the end of World War II, the pace of innovation in the automobile slowed down. This coincided with the emergence of government regulations that set safety, emission and energy standards for cars. As a result, the era of the annually restyled road cruiser came to an end. The market was penetrated first by German and Japanese fuel-efficient, functionally designed small cars and then by American car companies that offered high quality vehicles at reasonable prices. The American industry was eventually forced to abandon its pursuit of the fads and fancies of the fashion world and embrace practical, economical design, quality and manufacturing standards.