Automobiles are wheeled motor vehicles that are primarily used for transportation. They are powered by an internal combustion engine that can be fueled by gasoline, diesel fuel or another liquid or gas. The engine power is transferred to the wheels by a transmission system. The tires are connected to the axles by a suspension system that allows the automobile to move over rough terrain. Automobiles are usually designed to carry passengers, but some are also built for the transport of goods. There are even special vehicles for certain purposes, like cranes at construction sites and forklifts in warehouses.
The modern automobile was invented and perfected in Germany and France toward the end of the nineteenth century by engineers such as Karl Benz. Henry Ford innovated mass-production methods that made the car affordable to middle-class Americans, and his three main companies dominated production by 1920. The automobile reshaped world culture and economy, and became the backbone of a new consumer goods-oriented society. It was the lifeblood of the petroleum industry and one of the chief consumers of steel and other industrial products.
Most people cannot imagine a life without an automobile. They are very dependent on the ability to travel long distances quickly and to shop at anytime, anywhere. They also rely on the automobile for everyday driving and for family vacations. Having a car allows them to avoid traffic jams and take alternate routes when there are road construction or accidents. In addition, a car is a status symbol.