Automobiles (or cars) are wheeled vehicles designed to carry people. Most definitions include the term “automobile” to describe all motor vehicles, but there are distinctions in design between automobiles and other vehicles such as trucks, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles and boats. The word comes from the Greek prefix “auto” (“self”) and the Latin word “mobilis” (“moving”). The automobile is powered by an internal combustion engine to move, with most designs using gasoline as the fuel.

Cars allow people to travel long distances rapidly and comfortably, transforming the lives of those who use them. They have altered the economy and social structure of many societies. Entire industries have grown up around the manufacture and distribution of cars and their parts, and the convenience and mobility they provide has revolutionized the way most people live their lives.

There are many different types of automobiles, each designed to meet the needs and wants of a specific market segment. For example, a sports car is a fast and powerful automobile intended to thrill its driver and to compete with other sport cars in racing competitions. Some automobiles are built for the purpose of hauling heavy loads, while others are designed for family transport and comfort. There are also automobiles that combine multiple features to achieve a desired result, such as SUVs that offer off-road capability and cargo space while maintaining car-like handling and fuel efficiency.

The modern automobile is a complex system of mechanical, electrical and electronic components that performs in tandem to transport people from place to place. The chassis and body, analogous to the skeletal system in the human body, provides support for all of these systems. The modern automobile must meet certain standards for safety, size and weight, aerodynamics (how it moves through the air), and appearance. Since the 1920s most manufacturers have mass-produced their cars to meet demand, and marketing plans often heavily influence automobile design.

Many of the important systems in an automobile require electricity to function. The electric starter motor provides the initial force to turn the crankshaft, and the battery supplies energy for the engine to burn fuel. The engine itself generates heat and friction which must be removed by the cooling system. Some modern automobiles have regenerative brakes, which convert the energy of the vehicle’s motion back to electricity.

In addition, computers and other electronics control much of the automobile’s operation. These systems must be reliable to ensure safe driving and to keep the vehicle in good working condition. The advancement of technology has made it possible to add a variety of other features that enhance the driving experience and make life easier for passengers, such as sound systems with amazing music playback and rear-view cameras. Some automobiles even have Wi-Fi hotspots, wireless device charging and heads-up displays that show important information without the need to glance at the dashboard. The automobile is an integral part of our daily life, and its evolution continues at a dizzying pace.