Automobiles are vehicles that use an internal combustion engine to move. They are often equipped with a steering wheel, a dashboard and a brake pedal. They can have a number of passenger seats and can carry people or cargo. They can be powered by gasoline, diesel, electricity or other fuels. They have a roof and windows to protect passengers from rain or wind. They also have air conditioning systems to keep passengers cool or warm.

The first automobiles were invented in the 19th century by engineers such as Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler. The American businessman Henry Ford brought the automobile to the masses with his mass production techniques. Ford’s assembly line allowed him to build cars quickly and cheaply. This innovation revolutionized the car industry, allowing middle-class Americans to afford cars for the first time.

By the end of the 20th century, it seemed nearly impossible to imagine modern life without a personal car. Automobiles made it possible for families to travel long distances for work, school and vacation. They also brought suburban living and paved roads to rural America, ending its isolation from urban life and services such as better schools, medical care and hospitals.

The development of automobiles has been driven by new technological developments and design improvements. The modern automobile is a complex technical system that includes many subsystems with specific design functions. The most important subsystems are the engine, drivetrain, chassis, safety and control systems.