Automobiles are motor vehicles used for transporting people and things from place to place. They have four wheels and usually seat one to seven passengers. They have become an essential part of the American way of life and have helped develop new businesses, industries, and services. The automobile has made it possible to travel long distances quickly and easily. This enables us to have more freedom in our work, home and social lives. It has also opened up new job possibilities for many Americans and allowed them to spend more time with their families.

In addition to automobiles, there are other vehicles that can be considered automobiles in a sense such as trucks, buses, and motorcycles. However, most of the time when people refer to automobiles they are talking about cars. The automobile industry has been developing rapidly since the late 19th century. It has brought with it new technologies, such as gasoline-powered engines, air conditioning, and the introduction of television. These technological advancements have helped automobiles to become more fuel efficient and easier to use than ever before.

While the automobile industry has made tremendous strides in the past, it has not been without its problems. Automobiles have been a major source of pollution and have contributed to the draining of world oil supplies. In addition, the escalating price of gasoline has created concerns over safety and quality of design. This has led to government regulation of the automotive industry, including new rules governing safety standards, environmental emissions, and fuel consumption.

The first automobiles were powered by steam, but these were often expensive to operate. In the 1860s Siegfried Marcus, an engineer working in Vienna, built a prototype vehicle that used a two-stroke internal combustion engine fueled by gasoline. The automobile became a practical reality when Ransom E. Olds introduced his one-cylinder, three-horsepower, tiller-steered, curved-dash Oldsmobile in 1901. This was followed by the four-cylinder, fifteen-horsepower Ford Model N runabout in 1906. The Model N outpaced competitors by reconciling state-of-the-art design with moderate price.

By the 1930s market saturation had occurred at the same time as technological stagnation, and innovation was slowing to a crawl. Postwar automakers focused on producing vehicles for the war effort, and the number of automobile manufacturers had dwindled to about 44 by the end of the decade. Henry Ford developed mass production techniques that made the modern car possible, and Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler emerged as the dominant manufacturers.

With the imposition of safety standards and regulations on emissions and energy consumption the automobile industry has begun to refocus on function over form. The era of the annually restyled, gas-guzzling road cruiser has been replaced by more functional, affordable cars such as the German Volkswagen Beetle and Japanese small cars. Despite these challenges the automobile is still an indispensable mode of transportation. It is not only a means of transport but it is a symbol of individualism and freedom. It also provides a connection to the outside world and opens up opportunities that are not available through public transportation.