Automobiles are motor vehicles designed for the transport of people on land. Usually they have four wheels, an internal combustion engine and use gasoline (also called petrol or fuel oil), but they can also be powered by other liquids such as petroleum products or electricity. They are one of the most universal and modern of today’s technologies, manufactured by a worldwide industry.

During the last century automobiles became a major force in transforming societies and economies. They changed work patterns, created new jobs in industries that made the components and consumed the fuel. They also brought people closer together. Families now have more choices for where they live in relation to their work, and they can travel longer distances for leisure or business.

The first practical, marketable automobile was patented by German inventor Karl Benz in 1886. The car became a mainstay of a new consumer goods economy and was one of the most widely used machines in history. Its design was influenced by the development of the assembly line, and it introduced new methods for mass production. It also created many ancillary industries and services, including rubber and then plastics. It also required the development of better roads and the creation of jobs to build and maintain them.

Cars can be divided into different categories according to their purpose and size, but they are primarily classified as passenger cars, cargo trucks or special cars. Passenger cars can be further subdivided into passenger cars with fixed roofs, convertibles and open-air models that are driven with the top down. Other kinds of automobiles include racing cars and buggies.

An automobile is a vehicle that uses an internal combustion engine to convert fuel into motion and power, and then distributes that motion to the wheels. Most of the modern world’s cars run on gasoline, which is a fossil fuel that is obtained from buried plants. A few still use other fuels, such as alcohol or natural gas, but most of them use the combustible fuel petroleum. Depending on the type of vehicle, an automobile may have various systems that help control and improve its performance. These include engine and transmission systems, chassis, bodywork, electrical equipment and service devices. Automobiles for off-road use typically have simpler systems and higher resistance to severe overloads and extreme operating conditions, while those that are intended for high-speed driving require more passenger comfort options, optimized vehicle stability at high speeds and improved engine performance. In the United States, there are more than 73 million automobiles, making it one of the world’s most common vehicles. It is estimated that there are only a few countries in the world that have more vehicles, such as China and India. In other parts of the world, there are few or no automobiles at all. In some places, public transportation is the primary mode of transport. These are often government-subsidized, but they can still be slow and inconvenient. Private automobiles are more convenient and can get people to their destinations quicker.