An automobile is a motor vehicle designed to transport people. It is usually designed to run primarily on roads, seat one to eight people, and have four wheels.

The modern car was developed by German engineer Karl Benz around 1886. He built the first car with an internal-combustion engine and began a company named Benz & Cie.

In the early 20th century, hundreds of small manufacturers competed to market their cars worldwide. These competitors helped drive technology forward, including electric ignition and the electrical self-starter (developed by Charles Kettering for the Cadillac Motor Company in 1910-1911), independent suspension, and four-wheel brakes. The advent of mass production in the 1920s reduced competition and consolidated the automobile industry. The most well-known examples are the Ford and General Motors companies.

Automobiles provide millions of jobs worldwide. They also help people get where they need to go, whether it is to work, school, or visiting friends and family. But they also cause many problems. Millions of people die in car accidents every year and the pollution from exhaust pipes pollutes the air we breathe. And they take up valuable parking space in cities.

Today, many people can’t imagine living without a car. Owning a car gives you independence and freedom from having to rely on the bus or your neighbor’s car to get to where you need to be. It is easy to forget that the era of annually restyled road cruisers came at a cost of high fuel prices, increased air pollution and a drain on the world’s dwindling oil reserves.