An automobile (also car or motorcar) is a wheeled motor vehicle for passenger transportation. It is primarily powered by an internal combustion engine using a volatile fuel, most often gasoline. Modern cars are complex technical systems with a variety of subsystems designed to perform specific functions. They are a common means of transport worldwide, and they have contributed to the expansion of urban areas. They also serve as a major source of employment, providing millions of jobs in factories that manufacture them and at gas stations, restaurants, and motels where they are often fueled and serviced. They have also generated significant environmental concerns, as they are responsible for air pollution and traffic congestion.

The automobile was first invented in the late 1800s. European manufacturers dominated the industry until Henry Ford introduced the Model T and William Durant founded General Motors in 1908. The automobile became one of the most influential innovations in human history, and it has transformed society in many ways.

Automobiles have made people more mobile and independent, but they have also brought about other problems such as traffic congestion and parking shortages in city centers. Millions of people die in car accidents every year, and automobiles pollute the environment. They also contribute to global warming by producing greenhouse gases. In addition, they require a lot of raw materials to produce, and many of these are sourced from developing countries where labor is cheap.

There are many different types of automobiles, depending on the use they are designed for. For example, automobiles that are used off-road must have durable, simple systems with high resistance to overloads and extreme operating conditions. On the other hand, cars that are used for transporting passengers on high-speed roads need more passenger comfort options and optimized performance for handling at high speeds.

Body construction and design are essential for automotive safety and beauty. Body parts are mainly made of steel, but some are made of plastic or fiberglass. There are various body styles, such as coupe, convertible, sedan, minivan and SUV. Coupes are two-door vehicles with a fixed roof; convertibles have removable tops; and sedans are usually four-door vehicles. Minivans have up to three rows and can carry 8 or more passengers. SUVs are taller than sedans and can carry more cargo.

During the 1880s, several inventors worked on steam-powered road vehicles such as cars, buses and phaetons. However, it was not until 1886 that a practical and affordable automobile was developed when Carl Benz successfully patented his Motorwagen.

The development of the automobile was a significant step in industrialization, and it revolutionized the world’s economy by making it easier for people to travel to distant locations. Today, the automotive industry is one of the largest and most diverse industries in the world. Modern cars are very sophisticated and have numerous safety features to protect the driver and passengers. Many of them feature advanced technology and are constantly being improved upon. They are also a symbol of status and wealth, and they are the preferred mode of transport for many people around the world.