A modern automobile, also known as a motor vehicle, is a wheeled passenger car that is powered by an internal combustion engine. It is designed to run primarily on roads and seat one to seven people. Its four wheels are usually attached to a chassis which is largely made of metal and often contains other materials such as plastic, fiberglass, and leather.

The automobile revolutionized the world by giving individuals mobility and freedom to travel and work at will. It created many new jobs and industries that fueled the economic growth of the twentieth century. For example, the automobile prompted the development of better roads and transportation systems, as well as new products like tires and fuel tanks. Automobiles also led to the invention of more powerful and efficient engines.

Until the 1920s, most cars were hand-built by individual craftsmen. However, the invention of mass production techniques by Henry Ford ushered in the age of the automobile as a consumer good. This new way of manufacturing allowed automobiles to be sold at lower prices than ever before. It was at this time that most Americans purchased their first cars, enabling them to live the American dream of personal transportation.

While it is generally credited to German inventors Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, the automobile is actually a combination of many ideas. The earliest automobiles used steam, and some of the first were electric-powered. The first gasoline-powered automobiles were built in the 1880s. These automobiles travelled over long distances, and were used to transport passengers and freight.

The modern automobile is driven by an internal combustion engine that uses a gasoline or diesel fuel to run. The engine is connected to the wheels by a transmission, which converts the power of the engine into mechanical energy that moves the wheels. Most modern automobiles are also powered by an electric motor, which provides supplementary power when needed.

In the United States, the automotive industry is dominated by a handful of large manufacturers that produce vehicles across the price spectrum. These companies use a variety of materials in their production, including steel and aluminum alloys. Some are even constructed using lightweight carbon fiber composites. Computer aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) have changed the way that cars are manufactured, allowing complex shapes to be constructed with great precision.

Today, cars are a major part of the global economy. They are used for daily commutes, shopping trips, and visits to friends and family. Automobiles have also become a symbol of American culture, from the first Model Ts to the sleek, artfully designed mid-century modern models that cruised U.S. highways and byways in the 1950s. They are a source of pride for many Americans, and they have helped shape the country’s identity as an industrial powerhouse and a consumer society.