A vehicle with wheels used for transportation, typically on roads. Automobiles come in a variety of shapes, sizes, engines, and propulsion systems.

The word automobile is a portmanteau of mobile and auto, which in turn is derived from the French adjective voiture (meaning “wheel”) and the Greek element autos (which means “itself”). Automotive design has evolved significantly over the centuries to incorporate improvements in safety, fuel efficiency, and ease of use.

During the early 20th century, Ford revolutionized automobiles with the introduction of the Model T, which sold for one-fourth of the cost of the previous decade’s models. This affordable car made it possible for many people to own a car, and the demand for cars increased dramatically throughout the 1920s.

Although the automotive industry caused a huge economic boom, it also resulted in environmental problems. Automobiles contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, and they release toxic materials into the air and water. They can also cause death if they are driven too fast.

Aside from the environmental issues, automobiles can be dangerous to drivers and passengers. They can be a threat to pedestrians as well, because they can kill them suddenly if they are involved in an accident.

Another problem with cars is that they are often not recycled or disposed of in a safe manner. They contain a lot of plastics and lead acid batteries, which can be a health hazard for humans and animals alike. They can also be a major source of pollution, because they are often disposed of as scrap metal in landfills.

As a consequence, there are many car recycling programs around the world to help people recycle their automobiles. These programs also educate the public about the importance of recycling and encourage them to take steps to protect the environment.

The first automobiles were invented in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Some of them were converted from other vehicles, such as carriages and boats. In 1885, Karl Benz of Germany patented the first three-wheeled motorized vehicle. This vehicle was the result of his efforts to produce a reliable two-stroke gasoline engine, based on Nikolaus Otto’s four-stroke engine.

Benz’s team of engineers also developed a new power train, including a battery ignition system, an accelerator for speed regulation, a spark plug, a clutch, and a radiator for cooling the engine. They also introduced a gear shift mechanism. In 1886, he built the world’s first three-wheeled automobile that was manufactured and sold commercially.

Bertha Benz, the wife of Karl Benz, drove a Benz Motorwagen for 106 km (about 65 miles) on a public road in Mannheim, Germany, in 1888 to promote her husband’s invention. The event gained wide publicity and paved the way for her husband to become a world-famous inventor.

The history of the automobile is a long and complex one. It began with the invention of the first motorcar, then expanded to include cars that could carry passengers and luggage. Then it expanded again to include vehicles that could travel over land, air, or sea.