Automobiles are vehicles that use an engine or motor to move. They are designed to run primarily on roads, have seats for one to seven people and typically have four wheels. They were first used in the late 19th century. In the United States, there are about 590 million automobiles (roughly one for every eleven people). The most common types are sedans and hatchbacks. There are also sports cars, pickup trucks and vans. The automobile is a very important invention because it allows people to travel long distances quickly and easily. It has changed society in many ways. People can now visit relatives in distant places, and go shopping or work without having to wait for the next train or bus. In addition, the automobile has helped people to escape from urban areas and enjoy nature in the countryside.

The name “automobile” comes from the Greek words for self-moving. The earliest automobiles were steam engines attached to wagons. They were slow and difficult to control. Later, better and faster steam automobiles were built. During this time, North Carolina got its first car factory. The company was called the Ford Motor Company, and it began assembling automobiles in 1914. Today, there are more than 200 automobile factories in the U.S. Most of them are located in the south.

Most modern automobiles have internal combustion engines. These engines burn fuel, such as gasoline, diesel fuel or kerosene, to produce energy. The energy in the fuel is converted to mechanical energy by the crankshaft of the engine. The engine then drives the wheels of the automobile. Some of the earliest automobiles were electric powered. These were very slow and expensive. The introduction of the internal combustion engine made automobiles much cheaper and easier to operate.

Cars need to be durable, safe and comfortable. To be safe, they must have systems to prevent crashes and accidents. They must have brakes that can stop the vehicle in an emergency and keep it from rolling when parked. Most automobiles have airbags to protect passengers in case of an accident. They also have crumple zones that help protect the occupants from injuries.

In addition, the safety of automobiles depends on how well the driver and passengers behave while driving them. Drivers must obey the rules of the road and be careful not to speed or drive recklessly. Passengers must wear seat belts and follow the safety instructions in the owner’s manual.

Besides the initial cost of the vehicle, there are other costs associated with owning an automobile. These include the cost of repairs, maintenance, fuel, borrowing fees, insurance and taxes. There are also indirect societal costs associated with the automobile, such as environmental pollution and health care costs related to automobile accidents. The economic benefits of the automobile are huge, however, especially for those who can afford to own and maintain one. The automobile has revolutionized transportation, society and culture in many ways. It has become an integral part of daily life for millions of Americans.