The word "automobile" more commonly known as a "car" refers to a ground-based motorised vehicle with wheels. The term "automobile" comes from the Greek word "", meaning "self", and the Latin word "mobilis", meaning "mobile". This reflects the idea that an automobile is self-propelled by its own motor, unlike other types of vehicle drawn by animals, which were common prior to the second half of the 19th century. Although the first self-propelled vehicle was invented by Joseph Cugnot in 1769, it wasn't until the middle of the 19th century, and the industrial revolution, that this type of vehicle became more widespread. While early examples were stream-powered, they were quickly replaced with internal combustion engine automobiles, which first appeared in 1885.
The automotive industry is a major part of the economy in many countries, including the United States, Japan and Germany. The world's biggest automotive companies are Toyota, Volkswagen AG and General Motors. The automotive industry is also a major source of employment, especially in the servicing and maintenance sector. As well as being a practical form of travel, automobiles are also a source of great interest for many people, as demonstrated by films on the subject and the vast number of races that exist worldwide (which first appeared at the same time as the first automobiles). There is also a wide interest in "tuning", which involves customisation of a vehicle to improve its performance, or simply for aesthetic reasons.