Automobiles are motorized vehicles used for passenger transportation that have four to eight wheels & are powered by an internal combustion engine fueled most commonly by gasoline but also by other fuels. The automobile industry is one of the world’s largest & most complex industrial enterprises. Automobile engineering is the branch of science & technology that deals with the manufacture, design & development of automotive vehicles.

The Automobile revolutionized modern life by providing a way to travel long distances quickly, efficiently & cheaply. It also created new leisure activities like tourism, recreation & fast-food restaurants & provided access to urban services like hotels & entertainment venues. It also spawned new government regulations, safety standards & laws to control pollution & traffic congestion.

In the first decade of the 20th century, a growing middle class in America could afford cars. The great demand ensured the economic success of manufacturers like Ford, General Motors & Chrysler.

Automakers had to develop a range of models to satisfy varying customer needs. Models for off-road use need rugged systems able to withstand severe overloads. Those designed for high-speed travel require optimized passenger comfort options, engine performance & vehicle stability.

Automobiles also need to be economical, safe & easy to operate. They must meet regulatory & environmental requirements, such as noise, vibration & exhaust emissions, and must have good traction on various road surfaces & in a variety of weather conditions. The type of drive & layout of the car are important considerations as well, since some cars may be driven mainly on highways & others will need to be able to handle tough off-road driving.

Many of the most important & influential changes in American society were brought about by the automobile. People gained freedom and independence by traveling far distances on their own, opening up opportunities for employment, shopping & visiting friends & family. It allowed people living in cities to escape to the countryside & rural areas to visit urban areas.

In a car, a family can travel from home to work and school, go on shopping trips and to visit relatives. The automobile also helps people get to jobs, medical appointments & other places of interest in a short time. This can save time and energy & allow them to spend more time on other things.

In the past, there were many different kinds of automobiles. Some were powered by steam, while others ran on electric power or liquid petroleum fuel. The most popular was the gasoline-powered automobile. The first gas-powered automobiles were made in the late 1800s. By 1900, they had a 38 percent share of the United States market. The other types of vehicles included the steam carriage, which could go faster than a horse but required extensive maintenance; battery-powered cars, which had a limited driving range and needed to be recharged frequently; and the steam-powered locomotive, which was slow and difficult to maneuver. The steam locomotive remained the dominant form of transport until 1908. By then, automobiles were starting to dominate the market.