An automobile is a wheeled passenger vehicle with seating for one to six people and designed to be driven on roads. The automobile has a body made of steel and other strong materials that protects the mechanical parts inside. Its engine provides the power to turn the wheels and provide electricity for lights. Other systems in the car control and steer it. Today, millions of people around the world drive cars. They help people get to work and school, visit friends, and shop. In addition, the automobile industry employs many people in factories and at restaurants and motels where travelers stop.

The first automobiles were built by Karl Benz, a German engineer. From the 1880s to about 1910, most automobiles were custom-made for wealthy individuals. Then Henry Ford revolutionized the automobile by developing an assembly line and his Model T. This allowed more people to buy cars.

The automobile changed American society in many ways. It allowed families to take vacations in distant places. It encouraged urban dwellers to rediscover pristine landscapes in the countryside, and rural residents to shop in towns and cities. The automobile gave women more independence and freedom, allowing them to travel on their own. Two women even traveled across the country in 1916 with banners reading “votes for women.”

However, automobiles also cause problems. They are a major source of air pollution and can be dangerous to pedestrians and bicyclists. And they can lead to traffic jams, accidents and injuries. In addition, they can make parking spaces scarce.