Automobiles, also known as motor cars or automobiles, are self-propelled vehicles that are used for travel on land. These include passenger cars, trucks and buses. The design of an automobile depends on its intended use; it is usually a four-wheeled vehicle with an internal combustion engine or electric motor for propulsion, with seating for two to seven people.

The automobile has a long history, going back to the French engineer Nicolas Joseph Cugnot who built the first steam-powered automobile in 1769. In 1801 the British inventor Richard Trevithick built a three-wheeled steam-powered carriage, but it was not until the invention of the internal combustion engine in 1826 that the car began to take off.

Although the automobile is a convenient way to transport ourselves around, it causes a lot of damage to the environment. It requires a lot of energy to make and it emits pollution into the air. And when it is not in use, it has to be disposed of.

Henry Ford was a successful industrialist who revolutionized the production of automobiles. He introduced assembly lines in his factories and began to employ workers on a fixed salary. This system reduced the price of his cars so that it could be affordable for many American families.

A modern car is an intricate technical system consisting of a large number of component parts. Each part has its own design function and may be derived from a variety of new technologies.

Its main components include the engine, the transmission, the steering mechanism, the brakes, the fuel tank and other mechanical systems. There are also many electrical devices in an automobile.

The automotive industry is the largest single industrial sector in the world, with over 1.4 billion cars operating worldwide and more than 70 million new units built each year. The majority of the vehicles are passenger cars and trucks, with commercial and public transport taking up a minor share.

In the United States, the auto industry has been dominated by the Big Three automotive companies – Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. By the middle of the 20th century, these companies had become dominant in both domestic and global markets.

Automobiles have been instrumental in changing America’s social, economic and physical landscape. They have made urban life more comfortable and facilitated access to outdoor recreation and other amenities. They have also transformed the rural environment by making the farm tractor obsolete and by creating the city with its surrounding industrial and residential suburbs.

A modern vehicle is a complex technical system containing thousands of individual component parts that have evolved from breakthroughs in existing technology or from new discoveries in fields such as electronics, high-strength plastics and alloys of steel and nonferrous metals. These components are often incorporated into an entire system that includes the steering and suspension of the vehicle.

The car is the most important symbol of modern times and it has a strong presence in our culture and society. The fact that it has become a mass-produced, highly consumer-driven product has led to an enormous increase in its demand. This is leading to problems of a dimension unseen in the past, such as environmental and energy issues. The role of the automobile needs to be reexamined.