Automobiles are four to eight wheeled vehicles that are used for transportation. They are powered by an internal combustion engine that uses a volatile fuel. Modern automobiles are complex technical systems, and the branch of engineering that deals with their manufacture and technology is known as automotive engineering.

In most parts of the world, automobiles are the primary means of transporting people. They are commonly used to commute to work and school, but also allow individuals to travel for leisure or business. People can also use them to move cargo from one place to another. The automobile has become a major part of modern life, and has had a profound effect on society and culture. In some cases, entire societies have been restructured around the power of rapid long-distance movement that it confers.

The earliest automobiles were powered by steam or electricity, but it was Francois Isaac de Rivaz of Switzerland who first developed the internal combustion engine in 1806. This was followed by the clumsy engines used by Samuel Brown of England and Samuel Morey of America in the early nineteenth century. In the 1880s Gottlieb Daimler and Emile Levassor of France developed motor cars with four-stroke gasoline engines. Henry Ford introduced the Model T in 1910, and it became a mass-produced car that ordinary people could afford to purchase.

Other types of automobiles include trucks, buses, and railcars. There are also racing cars that are designed for speed, and utility vehicles that are designed to carry more cargo than passenger cars. There are even special automobiles that are used for specific tasks, like a crane vehicle at construction sites and a road roller at highway construction.

Some of the most important functions of an automobile are safety, comfort, and convenience. Most people enjoy the freedom and privacy that a car provides, unlike riding in a bus or train. Automobiles can be equipped with air conditioning, stereo systems, and other amenities to make the ride more pleasant. They can also be fitted with safety devices, such as seat belts and headrests, to protect passengers in the event of an accident.

The safety of passengers is a significant concern for automobile manufacturers, and they often design and test crash-worthiness in laboratories. However, some accidents are caused by the irresponsible actions of drivers, and are not related to mechanical failures. Injuries caused by automobile accidents can be severe and disabling.

There are many benefits to owning an automobile, and most people would agree that it is worth the investment. In addition to saving time and money, automobiles can also be a great way to meet friends, go on vacation, or visit family. Having a car allows you to get where you need to be without having to wait for a ride or worry about the hygiene of fellow passengers. Additionally, having a car gives you the ability to drive anywhere in the country, unlike some ride-share companies that only operate within city limits.