Automobiles are cars, trucks, lorries and buses that use an engine to make them move on land. They have four wheels and are powered by an internal combustion engine which uses gasoline (or sometimes diesel or kerosene). Most modern automobiles are also designed to carry passengers. These vehicles can be driven by their own power or by a human driver. They are an essential part of the world’s modern economy and they are a major source of jobs. Millions of people all over the world work in factories to produce them. Millions more work in the service industry, at gas stations, restaurants or motels where people stop to rest while travelling by car. Despite their positive economic impact, they can cause a lot of problems. Millions of people die in traffic accidents, and they pollute the air that we breathe. Moreover, they take up valuable parking space in cities.

Karl Benz invented the first modern automobile, but it was Henry Ford who made them available to most Americans. He used industrial manufacturing techniques to speed up production and reduce the cost of automobiles so that middle-class families could afford them. His Model T was so popular that it became known as the car that “put America on wheels”.

The type of automobile that a person owns depends on their needs and lifestyle. A vehicle that is used on rough terrain may need a robust engine and durable parts to handle extreme conditions. An automobile that is driven at high speeds requires optimized passenger comfort options and improved engine performance.

In the early 20th century, many different types of automobiles competed to become the dominant form of transportation in the United States. Electric and steam-powered automobiles struggled against the faster, cheaper gasoline-powered models. Gasoline-powered automobiles won the race by 1920, and by the end of the century they had overtaken all other forms of transportation.

Modern automobiles are built in many different shapes and sizes to suit the needs of their owners. They are available in sedans, hatchbacks, station wagons and SUVs. Some are built for luxury and others for utility. An SUV is a vehicle that combines the towing capability of a truck with the passenger capacity of a family sedan.

The design of an automobile should be cost-efficient to keep the manufacturing costs low. It should also have clear visibility to ensure the safety of its passengers. An attractive shape and color are also important to attract buyers. A car that has excellent handling and steering is desirable. However, some manufacturers have sacrificed handling for other priorities such as safety, comfort and fuel efficiency. For example, BMW’s recent 5 Series models have lost some of their athleticism.