motorized road vehicle designed to carry one to eight people rather than primarily goods
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An automobile (or car) is a land vehicle used to carry passengers. Automobiles usually have four wheels, and an engine or motor to make them move but relatively less than a truck/lorry and bus.

symbols of automobiles

Statistics show that driving in a car is safer than riding in a fixed-wing aircraft.

The word "automobile" comes from the Greek prefix "αυτό" (self) and the Latin word "mobilis" (moving). This name means "self-moving", as cars run on their own power and do not need horses or other power from outside to move.

Similar and opposite words

  • automobile
  • motor
  • machine
  • wheels
  • heap
  • crate
  • (old) banger
  • jalopy
  • limo
  • auto
  • hooptie
  • motor car
  • horseless carrige

Types of automobiles


Automobiles are made in different shapes and sizes, for people with different needs. Here are some common types.

  • A convertible is an automobile with a roof that can be opened or taken off for an open-air drive. Sportier convertibles are called roadsters.
  • A hatchback is a smaller automobile with a cargo area that uses the same space as the cabin (instead of a separate trunk like in a sedan or coupé). They combine the sportiness of coupés and sedans with the storage space of SUVs.
  • A roadster (also spider, spyder) is an open two-seat car with emphasis on sporting appearance or character. Initially an American term for a two-seat car with no weather protection, its usage has spread internationally and has evolved to include two-seat convertibles.
  • A pickup truck is a light or medium duty truck with a separate cabin and cargo area on a ladder frame. The cargo area is called the "bed".
  • A sedan (saloon in British English) is an automobile with a sloped rear window and separate trunk that has four doors - and are taller than a minivan, passenger van, hatchback, SUV or a station wagon. Variations of the sedan style include the close-coupled sedan, club sedan, convertible sedan, fastback sedan, hardtop sedan, notchback sedan, and sedanet.
  • A liftback is a variation of a hatchback car body style, with a more gently sloping roofline, roughly between 45 and 10 degrees, whereas traditional or archetypal hatchback designs tend to use a 45 degree to near vertical slope on the top-hinged tailgate (often called, and even counted as, a rear door on hatchbacks).
  • Shooting-brake (alternately spelled shooting break) is a car body style which originated in the 1890s from horse-drawn carriage origins. The first automotive shooting brakes were manufactured in the early 1900s in the United Kingdom. The vehicle style became popular in England during the 1920s and 1930s, and was produced by vehicle manufacturers or as conversions by coachbuilders. The term was used in Britain interchangeably with "estate car" from the 1930s but has not been in general use for many years and has been more or less superseded by the latter term.
  • A leisure activity vehicle (abbreviated LAV), also known as van-based MPV and ludospace in French, is the passenger-oriented version of small commercial vans primarily marketed in Europe. One of the first LAVs was the 1977 Matra Rancho (among the first crossover SUVs and a precursor to the Renault Espace), with European manufacturers expanding the segment in the late 1990s, following the introduction of the Citroën Berlingo and Renault Kangoo.
  • A retractable hardtop — also known as "coupé convertible" or "coupé cabriolet" — is a car with an automatically operated, self-storing hardtop, as opposed to the folding textile-based roof used by traditional convertible cars.
    • A coupé (coupe in American English) is like a sedan, but usually only has two doors and is seen as sportier than a sedan.
  • An SUV (sport utility vehicle) is a rugged automobile that has a combined passenger and cargo area (like in minivans, hatchbacks, station wagons, and passenger vans). SUVs are very popular due to their usefulness.
  • A van is a big box-shaped automobile meant for carrying plenty of passengers or cargo. There are many different sizes of vans, such as minivans, which are made for families.
  • A fastback is an automotive styling feature, defined by the rear of the car having a single slope from the roof to the tail.[1][2] The kammback is a type of fastback style.
  • A limousine (/ˈlɪməzn/ or /lɪməˈzn/), or limo (/ˈlɪm/) for short,[3] is a large, chauffeur-driven luxury vehicle with a partition between the driver compartment and the passenger compartment which can be operated mechanically by hand or by a button electronically.[4] A luxury sedan with a very long wheelbase and driven by a professional driver is called a stretch limousine.[5], In some countries, such as the United States, Germany, Canada, and Australia, a limousine service may be any pre-booked hire car with driver, usually but not always a luxury car. In particular, airport shuttle services are often called "limousine services", though they often use minivans, light commercial vehicles, or MPVs.[4]
  • A Minivan (sometimes called simply a van) is a car classification for vehicles designed to transport passengers in the rear seating row(s), with reconfigurable seats in two or three rows. The equivalent classification in Europe is MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) or M-segment.[6][7][8][9]



To make an automobile move, it must have energy to turn the wheels. This energy might be chemical energy in gasoline or electrical energy in a battery. How quickly the engine or motor can send the energy to the wheels, and how much energy is sent, is called the power of the motor. The power of an automobile is usually measured in kilowatts or horsepower.



As of 2019, most automobiles burn a fuel to make an internal combustion engine (sometimes called a "motor") run. The power from the engine then goes to the wheels through a transmission, which has a set of gears that can make the automobile go faster or slower. The most common fuel is petrol, which is called "gasoline" or "gas" in American English.

Gasoline is a fossil fuel because it comes from ferns and other plants which lived millions of years ago. Over the millions of years, they turned into oil. This was drilled up from inside the Earth, and turned into fuel by chemical changes. Old gasoline-powered automobiles are noisy and their exhaust makes city air dirty, which can make people ill. Automobiles made after the mid-2010s are cleaner.[10]

Burning gasoline, like any kind of fossil fuel, makes carbon dioxide, which makes global warming. Since 2017, fewer gasoline powered automobiles are being made.[11][12] Some places will not allow gasoline-powered automobiles in the future, like Amsterdam in 2030.[13]


How an electric automobile works

The cleanest automobiles are electric vehicles. They are usually plugged into a power outlet or a charging station and store electricity in a battery at the bottom of the automobile. The electricity then drives an electric motor, which turns the wheels. Some electric automobiles have 2 motors: one at the front, and one at the back. A few have 4 motors (one for each wheel).[14]

Other sources of energy


Some automobiles burn diesel fuel, which is used in big trucks and buses, and a few use wood gas. In some countries, such as Brazil and Sweden, a mixture of ethanol and gasoline, called "gasohol" in Brazil and "E85" in Sweden, is used as automobile fuel. Other fuels include propane, natural gas, compressed air, and ethanol (which comes from plants). There are automobiles designed to run on more than one type of fuel — these are called "flex-fuel" and are rare.

A few automobiles generate electricity from hydrogen fuel cells (like the Honda Clarity). As of 2019, most of the hydrogen that people use comes from burning fossil fuels, but scientists and engineers are trying to make hydrogen from renewable energy a lot cheaper and easier to use.

Solar-powered car

Some automobiles even use solar cells for their electricity, but they are not very practical. There is a competition every year where people try to design a automobile that can last the longest and go the farthest on solar energy alone.

There is also a type of automobile that uses both an engine and an electric motor. This is called a hybrid electric vehicle; an example is the Toyota Prius.

Regenerative brakes


All automobiles have brakes which work by friction to stop the automobile quickly in an emergency or stop it rolling when parked. Electric automobiles also have regenerative brakes, which slow the automobile by turning the energy in its movement back into electricity, like an electric motor working the opposite way. So regenerative means the electricity is generated again.


The first Benz Patent Motorwagen

The earliest recorded automobiles were actually steam engines attached to wagons in the late 18th century. The steam engines were heavy, making these wagons slow and hard to control. Better and faster steam automobiles became common late in the 19th century.

Some automobiles in the early 20th century were powered by electricity. They were slow and heavy and went out of use until the idea came back later in the century.

The internal combustion engine changed the way many automobiles were powered. The engine used either gasoline, diesel, or kerosene to work. When the fuel is exploded in a cylinder it pushes the piston down and turns the wheels.

Although many people tried to make a good automobile that would work and sell well, people say that Karl Benz invented the modern automobile. He used a four-stroke type of internal combustion engine to power his Benz Patent-Motorwagen in 1886. He began to make many automobiles in a factory and sell them in Germany in 1888.

In North America, the first modern automobile was made by brothers Charles and J. Frank Duryea in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Duryea brothers' automobile also won the first-ever car race in 1895, competing against automobiles made by Benz. The race was in Chicago, Illinois, and 53 miles long. The Duryeas then began making the first automobiles for everyday use in 1896. That year, they made 13 automobiles by hand in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Ford Model T was the first automobile sold at a price most people could afford.

Benz may have invented the first modern automobile, and the Duryeas the first automobile to be sold, but Henry Ford sold the most automobiles to the most people. In 1910 he began making and selling his Model T, which was a huge success. Many people could afford this automobile, not just the rich, because Ford used mass production. This meant he made many Model Ts in a short time in a factory. People say that the Model T is the automobile that "put America on wheels". The Model T was the most popular automobile of the time because it was cheap but it was still a good quality automobile that ordinary people could own.

Since then, many different kinds of automobiles have been designed and built, from minivans to sports cars. In the 1950s, the United States made and used more automobiles than all the rest of the world. Fifty years later, China became the largest maker and user of automobiles.


The Ford Ka, a small, efficient automobile

Automobiles are faster than walking or riding a bike if you are going a long way. They can carry more than one person and a large amount of luggage. Depending on local public transport quality, they can also be faster and far more convenient than using buses, bicycles or trains (steam-powered, diesel-powered, electric-powered, monorail or light rail), and can often go where public transport cannot. 4-wheel drive "off road" vehicles are particularly good at reaching places difficult for other wheeled transport due to bad roads or harsh terrain. However, they cost more and burn more fuel, and there are many places even they cannot go. There are passenger cars (cars, buses), cargo, special (fire, sanitary, mobile crane, autoclave, refrigerator, infantry fighting vehicles, etc.) and sports (buggies, racing, eg Formula 1 cars, rally cars). Passable cars are divided into road, off-road (including quarry), increased cross-country ability and high cross-country ability. Cars with bodies of a special design, intended for the carriage of certain goods, are called specialized; there are timber carrier, farm truck, cement carrier, gasoline truck, etc.

The car equips an engine, transmission, chassis, bodywork, control system, electrical equipment, service devices. The engine can be gasoline (carburetor internal combustion), diesel, gas (balloon gas), electric, gas turbine. Transmission is a set of devices that transmit the torque from the engine to the driving wheels (caterpillars). Cars are produced in many countries. Most of all in Japan, USA, France, Republic of Korea, Spain, Great Britain, Brazil, Italy. For 100 years of existence, the car has become the most common vehicle. Annually 5 - 59 million various cars are produced in the world; also including 25% of trucks and buses. Most of the oil produced in different countries is processed for gasoline and diesel fuel to meet the needs of road transport.

Most automobiles enclose people and cargo in a closed compartment with a roof, doors and windows, thus giving protection from weather. Modern automobiles give further protection in case of collisions, as they have added safety features such as seat belts, airbags, crumple zones and side-impact protection that would be expensive or impossible on two-wheeled or light 3-wheeled vehicles, or most buses.

With regular check ups and service, automobiles can last a very long time. In some countries like Australia, people have to get their automobile checked by authorized mechanics regularly by law to confirm that their automobile is safe to drive. They can go to an automobile mechanic to get their automobile checked or have a mobile mechanic come to them to repair their automobile.



Buying and running a automobile needs a lot of money, especially for newer good-quality automobiles. There are things to pay for — the automobile itself, fuel, parts (for example, tyres), maintenance, repairs, insurance to cover the cost of crashes or theft, parking charges, and toll roads and any taxes or licensing fees charged by the government.

When automobiles crash, they can become damaged and hurt people, and the life of a person is more important than keeping a automobile from damage. When too many automobiles try to go the same way, traffic congestion slows them all. Automobiles can cause air pollution if too many are used in a small area like a city, and the combined pollution of the world's automobiles is partly to blame for climate change. Many places where people live close together have public transportation such as buses, trains (steam-powered, diesel-powered, monorail or light rail), trams and subways. These can help people go more quickly and cheaply than by automobile when traffic jams are a problem. Some of these problems can be made smaller, for example by carpooling, which is putting many people together in one automobile.

Traffic congestion and accidents can be dangerous to other road users, for example people riding bicycles or walking, especially in an old town built when automobiles were few. Some 20th century towns are designed for automobiles as the main transport. This can cause other problems, such as even more pollution and traffic, as few, if any, people walk. Communities are divided and separated by big roads. Pedestrians are in danger where there are too few foot bridges, small road bridges or other special crossings.

Current Production


In 2005 63 million cars and light-duty trucks were produced worldwide. The world's biggest car producer is the European Union with 29% of the world's production. In non-EU Eastern Europe another 4% are produced. The second largest manufacturer is NAFTA with 25.8%, followed by Japan with 16.7%, China with 8.1%, MERCOSUR with 3.9%, India with 2.4% and the rest of the world with 10.1%.

Large free trade areas like EU, NAFTA and MERCOSUR attract manufacturers worldwide to produce their products within them and without currency risks or customs, additionally to being close to customers. Thus the production figures do not show the technological ability or business skill of the areas. In fact much if not most of the Third World car production is used western technology and car models (and sometimes even complete obsolete western factories shipped to the country), which is reflected in the patent statistic as well as the locations of the r&d centers.

The automobile industry is dominated by relatively few large corporations (not to be confused with the much more numerous brands), the biggest of which (by numbers of produced cars) are currently General Motors, Toyota and Ford Motor Company. It is expected, that Toyota will reach the No.1 position in 2006. The most profitable per-unit car-maker of recent years has been Porsche due to its premium price tag.

The automotive industry at large still suffers from high under-utilization of its manufacturing potential.

A typical family car costs about 25€ in raw materials in production. Higher line cars tend to cost 100€ up.


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  2. "fastback". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  3. Garner, Bryan (July 28, 2009). Garner's Modern American Usage. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199874620. Archived from the original on July 7, 2023. Retrieved August 2, 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Definition of limousine". October 28, 2019. Archived from the original on September 20, 2019. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  5. "Definition of Stretch Limo". Archived from the original on July 2, 2020. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  6. "minivan". Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
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  8. "Car prices within the European Union / Prix des voitures au sein de l'Union européenne / Autopreise in der europäischen Union" (PDF). (in English, French, and German). Brussels: Publications Office of the European Union. 1 January 2011. Retrieved 2019-03-03.
  9. "Impact on the Competitiveness of the European Automotive Industry of Potential FTA with India and ASEAN" (PDF). p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 April 2013.
  10. "Euro 6 emissions standards: what do they mean for you?". Auto Express. Retrieved 2019-05-18.
  11. "Boom! Fossil Vehicle Sales Are Officially Now Decreasing In China, Europe, & USA". Cleantechnica. 16 February 2019.
  12. "Sales of passenger EVs will outnumber gasoline ones in 2038". Atlas. Bloomberg New Energy Finance. 15 May 2019. Archived from the original on 18 May 2019. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  13. Boffey, Daniel (2019-05-03). "Amsterdam to ban petrol and diesel automobiles and motorbikes by 2030". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-05-18.
  14. Schmidt, Bridie (2019-06-14). "Turn on a penny: Hyundai developing electric automobiles with motors inside the wheels". The Driven. Retrieved 2019-06-19.