The term 'automobile' derived its meaning from the Greek root 'auto' meaning 'self' and the Latin word 'mobilis' meaning 'movement' and therefore the term came to designate that it was a vehicle that did not require the aid of any other animal or vehicle for its movement and could be driven by itself.
An automobile may also be referred to as a motor car which refers to a vehicle which runs by the functioning of its own motor.
It is quite interesting to note that there is a bit of dispute regarding the first vehicles that ever strode on the surface of the earth. While some credit Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot for attaining this amazing feat around the 1770s by designing the very first self-driven mechanical three-wheeler vehicle, it is held by some others that it was Ferdinand Verbiest who around 1672 had built the first ever steam powered vehicle.
In both cases the common link is the renowned Swiss inventor named Francois Isaac de Rivaz who was responsible for combining the resources of hydrogen and oxygen to create the first internal combustion engine which was subsequently used for running the first vehicles on the earth's surface.
It must be noted here that this creation was not quite successful and the 19th century witnessed a series of innovations in the art of creating the predecessor of the modern cars. It was in 1885 that Karl Benz manufactured a vehicle which functioned with the aid of an Otto gasoline engine and this design was sanctioned by the relevant authorities and it is Karl Benz who is popularly regarded as the inventor of the modern vehicle.
In 1896, Benz conceptualized the first internal combustion flat engine. These vehicles were mostly three-wheelers and were extremely popular before the inception of the four-wheeler vehicles in the closing years of the 19 th century.
Another very prominent automobile company in those times was founded by Daimler and Maybach named Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft in the year 1890.
In fact it was in 1890 that the first foundations of the automobile industry were laid in France by Armand Peugeot and Emile Levassor. In the United States of America , the first car with an in-built internal combustion engine was manufactured by George Selden in 1877.