Automobiles are vehicles that use an internal combustion engine to generate power for the wheels. Most automobiles run on gasoline or a similar fuel, but they can also be powered by electricity or even batteries. The most popular types of automobiles are passenger cars, truck-based vehicles such as delivery vans and utility trucks, and sport/racing cars. Some automobiles are powered by alternative fuel, such as ethanol or vegetable oil.

The automotive industry is an important sector of the economy. It contributes to the creation of jobs and the supply of raw materials and services, such as lubricants and tires. It also helps to develop and promote new technology. In the United States, the automobile industry accounts for one out of six jobs and has a significant impact on national economic development.

While the automotive industry has been a catalyst for social and economic change, it has also had its share of challenges. Some of these challenges include environmental problems such as air pollution, global warming and depletion of world oil reserves. There are also concerns about the nonfunctional styling of many automobiles and about the cost of operating them.

Although the automobile was first invented and perfected in Germany and France toward the end of the nineteenth century by such engineers as Gottlieb Daimler, Karl Benz, and Nicolaus Otto, American manufacturers eventually came to dominate the industry. By the 1920s, Henry Ford introduced mass production techniques that revolutionized the industry. These methods allowed Ford to produce more automobiles at a lower cost, which helped to make them more affordable for middle-class Americans.

Today there are over 1.4 billion automobiles in operation worldwide. They are used to travel more than three trillion miles (five trillion kilometres) per year. Compared to other modes of transportation, such as trains and airplanes, automobiles are more efficient and flexible. In addition, they can be parked in small spaces and are very convenient to use.

The body of an automobile is the outer shell that protects the mechanical parts and passengers inside. It can be made of steel, aluminum or fiberglass. Some of the most popular body styles are coupes (two-door), sedans (four-door), minivans and SUVS (sports utility vehicles). The interior of a car is designed to provide passengers with comfort. Most cars have cushioned seats, air conditioning and heat, and radios. They have large windows and can accommodate up to eight people. Depending on the model, some may have navigation systems and audio controls.

Most automobiles are driven by a piston-powered internal combustion engine. The engine converts the chemical energy of fuel into kinetic energy, which is then transmitted to the car’s wheels through the transmission and drive system. Some cars use electric motors to make the wheels turn. Other cars run on a battery or hydrogen.