Automobiles are vehicles that use an internal combustion engine to generate power for propulsion. Most burn gasoline (petrol), but other fuels may be used. The power produced by the engine turns a crankshaft that drives the wheels. Most automobiles have a transmission that changes the speed of the crankshaft output. Modern cars are very complex machines with many safety and control systems. They can travel very quickly and cover long distances.

The development of the automobile has had profound effects on industry and technology and on everyday life. It has brought new jobs and industries to supply parts, fuel, and services like gas stations. It has opened up the world to people by allowing them to live and work in places far from their homes. It has increased social activities, allowing people to travel to more places and see their friends more often.

There are also disadvantages to automobiles, such as pollution and traffic congestion. They can also be dangerous if they crash. In addition, they can be expensive to maintain and repair. In order to reduce these disadvantages, many cities have developed public transportation such as buses, trains, trams and subways that can get people to their destination more quickly and inexpensively than an automobile.

Exactly who invented the first automobile is a matter of debate. Earlier accounts often gave credit to Karl Benz, from Germany, but recent research suggests that Edouard Delamare-Deboutteville and Leon Malandin of France were the first to make an automobile with an internal combustion engine.