Automobiles are vehicles that are used to transport people from one place to another. They are powered by an internal combustion engine or an electric motor and can seat between one and seven passengers. They are usually propelled by gasoline, but other fuels may be used. Some automobiles are also hybrids, which combine an internal combustion engine with an electric motor. There are 590 million passenger cars in use worldwide, with about 140 million of them in the United States.

The modern automobile is a complex technical system. It employs thousands of subsystems that have specific design functions. These are based on breakthroughs in existing technology and on new technologies such as electronic computers, high-strength plastics, and advanced alloys of steel and nonferrous metals.

Karl Benz is generally recognized as the inventor of the modern automobile. His Benz Patent-Motorwagen of 1885 used an Otto Cycle engine to run on gas and had several innovations that were important to future automotive development. Other inventors and engineers followed Benz with their own designs.

Henry Ford was the first to make an automobile that many people could afford. He introduced the assembly line, which allowed manufacturers to make a lot of vehicles in a short time, and this helped lower the price of the automobiles.

The automobile changed the way people live in America. It gave people more freedom and made it possible for them to visit places that were far away. It also brought new leisure activities, such as shopping and dining out. But the automobile caused harm, too, by causing air pollution and consuming undeveloped land for roads.