An automobile is a self-propelled vehicle that is designed to transport passengers and goods. It is typically propelled by a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine or an electric motor, though diesel engines are used to power a small number of vehicles.

Cars are one of the most widely used and most expensive types of transportation on Earth. An estimated 1.4 billion cars are in operation worldwide, with one-quarter of them produced by foreign manufacturers.

Historically, there have been many types of vehicles. Some were very small and simple while others were large and complex. The most common types of modern vehicles include the motorcycle, scooter, truck, bus, and car.

The first automobile was a steam-powered, three-wheeled, carriage built by Nicolas Joseph Cugnot in France in 1769. It weighed more than 300 pounds and moved at about 2.5 miles per hour. In 1801 British inventor Richard Trevithick designed a similar vehicle that was also steam-powered.

Automobiles changed the way people lived and worked. They gave people more personal freedom and access to jobs and services, and they helped develop the roads and other ways to transport goods.

In the United States, Henry Ford introduced modern mass production techniques to the automobile industry in the early 1900s. These made it possible for Ford to build a variety of cars at a low cost and to produce them quickly.

As a result, the automobile became the most popular form of transportation in the United States and was a major contributor to America’s economy. It ended rural isolation and stimulated participation in outdoor recreation and tourism. It also created new industries to supply the needs of the automobile industry and its drivers.

Some of the most famous automobiles are the Ford Model T, Cadillac, Volkswagen Bug, and Chevrolet Corvette. These are among the most popular and highest-selling models in history.

The automobile is a complex technical system composed of thousands of components and subsystems that all work together to perform the tasks of driving. These parts are located in the body, chassis, engine, drive train, transmission, and controls.

There are many different kinds of engines in an automobile, and they may be powered by gasoline, diesel, CNG (compressed natural gas), electricity, or hydrogen. Some are hybrids, which combine an internal combustion engine with a battery-powered electric motor.

In the 21st century, there is a growing focus on developing practical automobiles in which a computerized driving system either greatly aids or completely replaces the human driver. In 2010, there were about 1,500 such vehicles on the road in the United States alone.

These systems use sensors to monitor driving conditions, such as speed, acceleration, and braking, to control the engine, suspension, and steering. They can also detect obstacles and notify the driver of any hazards.

In addition to preventing collisions, these systems can help reduce fuel consumption and pollution. These systems can be activated by the driver as part of a normal driving maneuver or in response to a predetermined situation. They can also be operated by a remote control, such as a handheld device or a smartphone app.