Automobiles, also known as cars or motor vehicles, are motorized wheeled vehicles that primarily transport people and may carry cargo. The first automobiles were steam and electrically powered, with the internal combustion engine appearing around 1885. Karl Benz is credited with creating the first gasoline automobile, though other inventors and engineers such as Gottlieb Daimler, Nicolaus Otto, Emile Levassor, and Wilhelm Maybach developed their own versions. The automobile revolutionized society and brought changes in industry, technology and everyday life. It allowed people to travel longer distances, which increased work possibilities and social circles. It also led to new industries, such as those supplying parts and fuel for automobiles.
Automobile manufacturing became one of the first industries to adopt the assembly line. This allowed manufacturers to turn out more cars for less cost, making them affordable for more people. This was a big deal because, until the invention of the automobile, people could only afford one or two cars at most. It also gave rise to leisure activities that did not require a horse and carriage, such as movies and fast food.
After World War II, the automobile began to stagnate in terms of new features and technologies. However, since then there has been a significant increase in the number of automobiles on the road worldwide, and technological improvements have occurred. Today, there are an estimated 1.4 billion passenger automobiles in operation. In addition, hybrid and electric vehicles are becoming more common as the world shifts away from traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.