An automobile, or motor car, is a machine designed to run primarily on roads and carry a driver and sometimes a small number of passengers. It has four wheels and usually runs on gasoline or diesel fuel, although some use electricity. The word automobile comes from the French words for “auto” (“self”) and “mobile” (“movable”). It is a significant invention in human history. In addition to giving people independence from relying on others for transport, it has led to the development of new industries and jobs. It has also made it possible for people to travel long distances and live in cities or the countryside.

The first automobiles were invented and perfected in Germany and France during the late 1800s. Karl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler, and Nicolaus Otto developed internal-combustion engines that made their vehicles work. These automobiles were very expensive and only available to the wealthy, but by 1910 Henry Ford had developed an assembly line, which allowed the manufacturing of automobiles to become cheaper and more widely available.

Automobiles burn a type of fuel to power an engine, which turns the wheels. The speed at which the wheels turn is controlled by the transmission and is determined by how much energy the engine has, which is measured in kilowatts or horsepower. Most automobiles have an electrical system that powers lights, heaters, and other accessories, but some are powered by a battery, which is charged by electricity.

Most automobiles have a structure called a body that is made of glass panes and a metal or aluminum frame. The body protects the interior from the elements and provides a comfortable ride for the passenger. It can also be fitted with air conditioning, which makes the vehicle more comfortable and reduces dust. Some automobiles have seats that are adjustable to allow drivers of different heights to drive comfortably.

Special automobiles are used for various purposes, including fire engines, ambulances, and police cars. These automobiles are often adapted with specific equipment or features, such as flashing lights and sirens, to help them do their job safely. There are even automobiles that are used to move cargo, such as those that are used to haul large containers or tow machinery.

The automobile is a major source of pollution in some countries, especially those that have strict emission controls on them. Some manufacturers have worked to improve the efficiency of their vehicles and cut their emissions, while other companies have developed alternative energy sources to power them. There are also ways to make a vehicle more environmentally friendly, such as using biodiesel or recycling old parts. Some countries have even banned the sale of certain types of automobiles. The automobile has changed human society in many ways, and it is likely to continue to do so in the future. The most important benefit of the automobile is that it allows people to go places without having to rely on public transportation. The automobile has also helped to create more jobs and increase industry in the United States.