Automobiles are road vehicles that use an internal combustion engine or an electric motor to propel themselves along the roadways. The term is derived from Ancient Greek autos (, “self”) + French mobile (“moving”). Modern cars are complex machines with many systems working together. They are built to carry passengers or cargo, and may be equipped with comfort and convenience features for the rider. The most important system in any automobile is the engine, which powers the wheels and provides electricity for lights and other systems. An automobile requires a large amount of energy to operate, so it is important to be careful about the fuel and oil used to power them.

The invention of the automobile brought with it a host of changes to industry, technology, and everyday life. Suddenly people who could not afford the services of a horse breeder or carriage driver had a way to get around quickly and efficiently. Leisure travel became possible for the middle class, and new industries sprang up to support it.

In the beginning, the manufacture of the automobile was a small-scale endeavor, but as the market grew and the number of manufacturers increased, mass production techniques were developed to bring down costs. Henry Ford’s moving assembly line revolutionized the automotive industry, and the Model T set a price point that was within the reach of most American families.

With a vast land area and a population with far more equitable income distribution than Europe, it was inevitable that the United States would have an enormous demand for automotive transportation. Its industrial tradition, which involved the mechanization of manufacturing processes, made it easy to produce cars in high volume at a lower cost than European manufacturers.

Today, millions of people around the world depend on cars for work and play. They help people commute to and from work, and they allow people to go on long trips for business or vacations. The automobile has changed the way we live, but it is not without its downsides. Millions of people die in car accidents each year, and cars pollute the air that we breathe.

Automobiles are complicated machines, and all of their systems must function well for the car to run smoothly. These systems include the engine, transmission, chassis, steering, brakes, and electrical system. Each of these systems can be affected by a variety of factors, including age, weather conditions, and driving style. Automobiles that are designed for off-road use have special requirements for durability and ruggedness, while vehicles intended for highway cruising need to be optimized for high-speed performance.

The automobile has also become one of the most powerful tools of globalization, as manufacturers sell their products all over the world. This has created jobs in factories, at dealerships, and for the many workers who service and maintain cars. However, the profits that the automobile has generated have come at a price for the environment and for society in general.