Automobiles are a type of motor vehicle used for transporting passengers and cargo. Usually they are powered by an internal combustion engine using a volatile fuel. Modern automobiles are complex technical systems that employ many subsystems with specific design functions. These systems have evolved from breakthroughs in technology such as electronic computers, high-strength plastics, and alloys of steel and nonferrous metals.

The automobile has become a vital part of modern life. It allows people to travel long distances at a relatively fast pace, opening up more work possibilities and expanding social connections. The automobile also helps people reach places that public transportation cannot, such as the countryside and mountainous areas.

In the early 1900s, Germany became the centre of car-making with Nikolaus Otto, Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz developing petrol-driven engines. However it was the American Henry Ford who revolutionised car production with the use of assembly lines, where workers perform one job and parts pass on a conveyor belt, making cars affordable to middle class families.

Today there are different types of automobiles, such as sedan (or saloon in British English), coupe, minivan, station wagon, hatchback and SUV. Each of these automobiles has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, a sedan has four doors and can carry more passengers than a coupe, while the minivan can take more luggage. A SUV can be driven off road and has the towing capacity of a pickup truck, while the hatchback offers a lot of storage space.