Automobiles, also known as cars, are self-propelled motor vehicles used for transporting people. They are designed with four wheels and typically carry two to six passengers and a small amount of cargo. Automobiles are often classified by their engine type, which includes gasoline-powered, electric, and hybrid engines. The term automobile is often contrasted with a truck, which is designed to transport cargo and requires heavier construction, and a bus, which is built for the transport of large groups of people and can therefore have more amenities.

The development of the automobile accelerated after the invention of the internal combustion engine in the late 1800s. The first internal combustion engine cars were powered by either steam, electricity, or petroleum. Steam-powered cars reached high speeds but had limited range and were difficult to start. Electric cars were more convenient to operate but were expensive and only available to a limited market due to the difficulty of establishing charging stations. Petrol-powered cars became the dominant form of automobile by 1920, and a number of manufacturers began producing them. The advent of the mass production techniques introduced by American carmaker Henry Ford revolutionized industrial manufacturing, allowing mass-produced models to compete with higher-priced European cars.

Cars opened up new ways of living and work, including suburbanization, which allowed people to move farther away from cities for more affordable housing. They also made it possible to travel long distances for business or pleasure without the need for a train or ship. It was possible for people to visit friends and family in other towns or cities, to go on vacations or to find jobs where the pay was better than where they lived.

With the car came many new services, such as gas stations, hotels, and restaurants. The automobile also helped develop leisure activities, such as sports and amusement parks. It brought with it a host of new government requirements, such as safety standards and highway rules. It also caused problems, such as pollution and loss of open land for development.

In the modern world, it is nearly impossible to imagine a life without an automobile. There are about 1.4 billion of these vehicles in operation around the world. In the United States alone, drivers travel more than three trillion miles (five trillion kilometers) a year.

In addition to providing a means of transportation, a car can help you feel confident and secure in emergencies. For example, if your child is sick or you have a medical emergency, having a car will allow you to reach the hospital quickly. Having your own vehicle can also give you a sense of pride and accomplishment. It is a symbol of your success in the world and can be a source of status among your peers. Owning a car can also be a great way to bond with your family, especially if you are going out for a treat like ice cream after school. So, if you are ready to make your mark in the world, you should consider buying a car.