Automobiles are self-propelled vehicles used for passenger transportation on land. A car’s internal combustion engine is powered by a volatile fuel, usually gasoline (petrol). The automobile was invented in the late 1800s. Its development was accelerated by the lack of tariff barriers between American states and by cheap raw materials. In its earliest days, the automobile was expensive. But by the mid-1960s, manufacturers had figured out how to make automobiles more affordable by using mass production techniques and reducing the number of features.

The automobile has many positive effects on society. It allows people to travel long distances quickly, thus opening up more work opportunities and expanding their social circles. It also allows families to travel together. It’s hard to imagine a modern life without a car.

But the automobile is a complex machine that requires regular maintenance to ensure that it works properly. Its systems work together to power the vehicle, steer it and provide electricity for lights and other accessories. The branches of engineering that deal with these systems are known as automotive engineering. Developing new parts and components for automobiles is one of the most challenging areas of engineering.

Throughout history, many inventors and engineers have worked on automobiles. They include Gottlieb Daimler, Karl Benz and Nicolaus Otto. But it was Henry Ford who revolutionized the way cars are made. He developed an assembly line, where workers do one task and car parts move along a conveyer belt. This allowed him to produce the Model T, which was cheaper than previous models and more affordable for middle-class Americans.

Today, the automobile is a major source of transportation and the economy in most countries. It provides millions of jobs worldwide in factories, at gas stations and restaurants that travelers stop at. Millions more are employed in fields related to the automobile, such as engineering and research. In addition, the automobile is a symbol of wealth and status.

The era of the annually restyled road cruiser came to an end with a combination of factors: the imposition of federal standards for safety, pollution control and energy consumption; soaring gasoline prices following the oil shocks of 1973 and 1979; and increasing penetration of world markets by German and Japanese fuel-efficient, functionally designed and well-built small cars. Despite these setbacks, the automobile continues to dominate the world’s roadways. In the United States, more than three trillion miles (five trillion kilometres) are driven each year. And there are still few things more reassuring than to see your own car parked in the driveway.