Automobiles (also called cars or motor vehicles) are wheeled motor vehicles that run on roads. They usually seat one to eight people and have four wheels. Most have an internal combustion engine that burns a fuel to make the automobile move. Some have electric motors that convert the movement of the car into electricity, so that the automobile can stop when parked. Many different people have tried to build automobiles, but Karl Benz is the person most often credited with inventing the modern automobile. His model was the first to be made in large numbers and sold to average people, not just the rich.

Automobiles are part of a modern lifestyle, and they have transformed the world in both positive and negative ways. Some of the positive effects are the availability of jobs, places to live, and services that were not available before. However, the automobile has also increased traffic and pollution and paved over undeveloped land.

In the United States, automobiles have dominated the transportation scene for most of the 20th century. The gasoline-powered automobile is the most common type of vehicle, although other types existed in the past. A few early automobiles were powered by steam engines, and later some used electricity. The most recent invention is the regenerative brake, which turns the energy of the automobile’s movement back into electricity when it is stopped.

The word “automobile” is derived from the French words auto, meaning self, and mobile, which means moving. The word was first used to describe the horse-drawn carriages that were modified with engines in the late 1800s. Later, the term came to refer to any motorized vehicle. The first gasoline-powered automobiles were produced by companies such as Benz, Peugeot, and Ford.

Many of the early automobiles were designed for wealthy individuals and were expensive to manufacture. But a company called Oldsmobile introduced the assembly line in 1902, which allowed the manufacturer to produce cars in large numbers and make them affordable to most middle-class Americans.

Another important advancement in the automobile industry was the use of the four-stroke engine. The four-stroke engine is more efficient than the two-stroke engine and produces less waste gas. This led to a reduction in the weight of automobiles and a increase in their speed.

Nowadays, most American households own a car or other vehicle. A car is a symbol of freedom and enables people to travel long distances and visit friends and family. Having a car can also help a person find a job, because it allows him or her to apply for work in more locations. In addition, a car can make it possible to rent an apartment or buy a house because it shows that a person can make regular payments on a loan. This can influence lenders to grant loans. It also helps families avoid the hassle of commuting to and from work each day. Some of the younger generations are trying to limit their consumption of automobiles by walking, using public transit if it is available, and carpooling with other people.