Automobiles, also called automobiles, motorcars or cars, are self-propelled vehicles for the transport of people and, commonly, a small amount of cargo. The modern automobile is a complex technical system with a variety of subsystems that have specific design functions and that are constructed from materials such as high-strength plastics, advanced alloys of steel and nonferrous metals, and electronic computers. An automobile is usually propelled by an internal-combustion engine powered by a volatile fuel.

The automobile revolutionized transportation, changing the way Americans live and work, allowing them to move in ways that would have been impossible without it. The car enabled families to travel and shop together, to rediscover pristine landscapes, and to explore new frontiers, as well as to get around in their own community. As automobile production grew, the price dropped to a level affordable for middle-class families. This was an American achievement, made possible by Henry Ford’s use of assembly lines and other methods of industrial production that greatly reduced the cost of a car.

The automotive industry has continued to grow rapidly, especially in the United States. As more and more people acquire cars, traffic congestion has become a major problem. Traffic accidents and deaths have caused demands for licensure, safety standards, and other regulations. However, many people feel that the benefits of owning a car outweigh the inconveniences and expenses.

Most people who own cars use them for transportation and recreation. They save time and energy by not having to wait for buses or trains, or deal with crowded public transportation. They can also carry more luggage and groceries than they could on public transportation. In addition, they can customize their vehicles to suit their needs and tastes.

Auto manufacturers and suppliers are constantly developing new designs and features. These new innovations include the engine, transmission, electrical and cooling systems, lubrication, and chassis, among other things. These improvements are the result of research and development activities, as well as a need to meet increasing demand for cars in the world.

The most important factors that influence the design of an automobile are its intended use and the environment in which it will operate. For example, a vehicle designed for off-road use requires durable, simple systems that are capable of withstanding severe overloads and extreme operating conditions. On the other hand, a vehicle that is to be driven on highways must have optimized high-speed handling and stability as well as improved passenger comfort. In addition, a vehicle must be safe, economical to operate, and attractive in appearance. In the end, the best automotive design is a combination of these factors. This is why research and development is so important in the automotive industry. It is a continuous process, with engineers working on all aspects of automotive systems.