An automobile (also car or motorcar) is a land vehicle used to transport passengers. The word comes from the Greek prefix “auto” meaning “self”, and the Latin word for moving, “mobilis”. Automobiles have four wheels, an engine or motor to make them move, but they require less energy than trucks/lorries and buses to operate. There are over 1.2 billion cars in operation on the planet, with the vast majority of them being passenger vehicles.

Automobiles are made in many different shapes and sizes to suit people’s needs and tastes, but all automobiles have one thing in common: They all use a fuel to run their engines. The most commonly used fuel for automobiles is gasoline, but diesel and electric fuel are also used in some vehicles. In addition to fuel, automobiles need a variety of other supplies to function, including oil for the engine, tires and brakes, air for the tires and windows, plastics and rubber for other parts, and electrical power for lights and accessories.

Modern automotive technology has been driven by the need to improve safety and performance. For example, seat belts and crash test standards have made cars safer. Fuel economy has become an important consideration, with manufacturers offering smaller and more fuel efficient vehicles. New technical developments have been aimed at improving the body, chassis, engine, transmission, drivetrain, and safety systems.

The automobile revolutionized the world, giving people access to jobs and services. This led to the development of new industries and businesses to provide the necessities needed for automobiles, such as petroleum and gasoline, rubber, and plastics. Automobiles also brought new problems, such as traffic congestion and pollution from gas-burning engines. They also took up valuable land that could have been used for other purposes.

In the United States, cheap raw materials and a large population encouraged early automotive production, even before mass manufacturing techniques were introduced in Europe. The American industrial system allowed a large number of small manufacturers to compete in the market, which drove technological advances. Some of the first improvements were the electric ignition and auto-starter (designed by Charles Kettering for the Cadillac Motor Company in 1910-1911), and independent suspension, which made it easier to reach highway speeds.

The automobile revolutionized the world, enabling individuals to travel long distances quickly and conveniently, and thus to take advantage of opportunities far from their homes. It also opened up a wide range of leisure activities. This was especially true in the United States, where highways and interstates connected remote areas.