Automobiles are modern vehicles powered by an internal combustion engine that use gasoline (or its variants, namely diesel or LPG) as fuel. Generally, they have four wheels and are used for passenger transportation. There are 1.4 billion automobiles in operation today and more than 70 million new ones are built each year worldwide. The automobile industry is one of the largest industries in the world.
Compared to walking or riding bikes, automobiles are faster and can carry more people at a time. They also enable people to go places that are not easily accessible with other wheeled vehicles. However, their use can cause traffic congestion and pollution. They can also be expensive, especially if they are used for long trips. In addition, they consume a lot of energy and can be difficult to maneuver in tough terrain.
The earliest automobiles were steam-powered. Nicolas Cugnot built the first steam-powered vehicle in 1769 and Samuel Brown tested a steam car in 1826. Karl Benz invented the modern automobile in 1886 and began to produce them commercially. Emile Levassor and Armand Peugeot of France introduced vehicles with Daimler engines in 1890, laying the foundation for the French automobile industry.
An automobile is classified by its load-carrying capacity and motor type. A two-wheeler is a motorcycle or a scooter. A four-wheeler is a car or jeep. A vehicle with five or more wheels is classified as a medium motor vehicle (MMV) or a heavy motor vehicle (HMV), which can include trucks, trailers, containers and multi-axle buses.