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Automobiles are vehicles that use an engine to make them move. They are usually designed to carry people, and they usually have four wheels. They are often larger than a bicycle, but smaller than a truck/lorry or bus. Automobiles are very important to our daily lives because they give us the freedom to go wherever we want when we want. We can visit places far away and see things that we could not have seen before. We can also take a road trip and explore the countryside. Without automobiles we would have to rely on public transportation, which is sometimes very inconvenient.

The first automobiles were steam powered, but they were heavy and moved very slowly. Then came the internal combustion engine, which made cars much lighter and faster. These were invented by Nikolaus Otto, Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz in Germany at the end of the 19th century. Henry Ford was the first to produce cars using an assembly line, where workers do one job at a time and car parts pass along a conveyor belt. This made them cheaper to make. The result was that more people could afford to own and operate a car.

Today there are 1.4 billion passenger cars in the world. About three trillion miles (five trillion kilometres) are traveled each year by these vehicles. This is more than the total distance covered by all other forms of transport put together.

In recent years people have raised their expectations of what a car can do for them. They have become less interested in a car’s size, comfort and performance, but more concerned about its fuel economy and safety features. The demand for these “greener” vehicles has caused manufacturers to concentrate on designing smaller cars that are more economical to buy and run.

Some of the most famous car trips in history were made by women to advocate for their right to vote. Nell Richardson and Alice Burke drove around America in 1916, decorating their car with “votes for women” banners. This was a bold thing to do in those times.

The automobile has been a major force for change in twentieth-century American life. It shaped the development of roads and highways, triggered new industries that produced supplies of petroleum and gasoline, rubber and plastics, and provided jobs in many other ways. It even influenced the development of cities and suburbs. But the era of the automobile is fading and giving way to a new Age of Electronics.

The body of an automobile is the outer shell that holds all the mechanical and electrical parts of the vehicle. This is usually made of steel, but it can be made from other materials such as plastic or fiberglass. The seats and dashboard are usually made of leather, which gives the vehicle a luxurious look. All modern automobiles have safety features. In most countries the passengers must fasten their seat belts and children must be in child seats.