Automobiles, sometimes called cars, are vehicles with four wheels that can carry people. The word automobile comes from the Greek prefix “auto” (self) and the Latin word “mobilis” (moving).
They are made in many different shapes, sizes and styles for people of all ages and needs. They are faster and more convenient to use than walking or using other wheeled transportation such as buses, bicycles and trains.
The earliest cars were steam powered, but by the end of the 19th century electric and gasoline-powered automobiles had become more popular. Gasoline-powered automobiles were more affordable for middle class families and became the most common type of car in the United States by 1920.
Today, the automobile industry is a large and important part of the economy. It employs many people in countries around the world. There are about 1.4 billion automobiles in operation worldwide, with over 70 million new units being built each year.
Autonomous vehicles are also growing in popularity. These are designed to drive themselves without a driver, and they can be useful for people who need to travel quickly or in places where public transportation is difficult.
Some of these vehicles are made to carry passengers, while others are designed to transport cargo such as luggage. Other vehicles can be used for special purposes, such as ambulances, fire brigades and police cars.
In some countries, it is illegal to own or drive an automobile unless you have a license or permit. The law protects the safety of other drivers and passengers, as well as the environment.
Cars are the fastest and most convenient form of transportation for many people, especially in cities. But there are also problems with their use, such as traffic congestion and air pollution.
Vehicles can be dangerous if they are not well cared for, such as when they are in poor condition or have not been maintained properly. Accidents can cause serious injury and death.
One way to avoid accidents is to check all the parts of the vehicle before driving, and to keep them clean and in good working order. Some automobiles also have safety devices that can help protect people in a crash, such as seat belts and child locks.
When you are driving, you can use a number of controls on the steering wheel to change how fast you are going or to make changes to your speed. The most common controls are gears, which change how fast the engine turns. Other controls include a brake that slows or stops the car, and a clutch that can disconnect the engine from the transmission when you want to go slower.
There are many types of cars, including family sedans, sports cars, minivans and sport utility vehicles (SUVs). They range in price from inexpensive to high-end.
The history of the automobile is long and complex. Some of its scientific and technical building blocks were invented hundreds of years ago.
Throughout the twentieth century, improvements in the manufacturing techniques of automobile manufacturers changed how automobiles were made. These methods reduced the cost of producing cars and allowed them to be manufactured in factories.