Automobiles are vehicles that are designed for passenger transportation. They are usually four-wheeled vehicles that have internal combustion engines powered by gasoline, a liquid petroleum fuel. Other types of engine power are also used, including diesel engines (which use heavier crude oil) and electric motors powered by rechargeable batteries. Some automobiles are designed for off-road driving, and these can be called 4x4s or SUVs.

The first automobile was built in 1885 by Karl Benz, an engineer from Germany. Later, engineers such as Charles Duryea and Frank Duryea developed improved versions of the car. The automobile was a popular mode of transport in the early 1900s, and it brought people closer to the remote natural world than ever before. In the United States, Henry Ford made automobiles affordable for middle-class families by using assembly lines to reduce manufacturing costs and increase production.

Many advantages of owning a car include the ability to travel longer distances in relative comfort and freedom from public transport schedules. The time saved can be spent on activities such as shopping, going to work or visiting friends and family. Some cars can even reach areas that are inaccessible to public transport, such as mountainous regions and deserts.

An automobile is a highly complex technology, and there are many subsystems that have specific design functions. For example, an automobile’s computerized system may monitor the vehicle’s performance and detect problems such as instability or collisions. Then, the system may either alert the driver or automatically take evasive action to avoid the problem.

The term “automobile” is from French, meaning “car.” Other terms for automobiles are auto, limo, bus, van and truck. These vehicles are often divided into categories based on the number of passengers they carry. A limousine is typically designed for two to six passengers, while a van or bus may be designed to carry a much larger group.

Modern automotive engineering has evolved to produce a wide range of features that improve safety, comfort and utility. A variety of technologies are used to achieve these goals, such as airbags, seatbelts, traction control and antilock brakes. Some vehicles even have advanced computerized systems that can sense when a crash is imminent and activate safety features to prevent the accident from happening. Automakers continue to strive for the ultimate automotive experience, with self-driving vehicles that are capable of taking over the controls and navigating on their own. Until this goal is achieved, however, most drivers will remain responsible for the safety of their vehicles and their passengers. This means that they will need to pay attention to the road and act responsibly at all times. Those who violate traffic laws or otherwise exhibit poor driving behavior are likely to face substantial fines and/or jail sentences. The automobile is one of the most universal of modern technologies, and it is used in countless ways by consumers around the globe. The development of newer technologies, such as microprocessors and high-strength plastics and metal alloys, will only further expand the uses for the automobile.