automobile industry, the business of producing and selling self-powered vehicles, including passenger cars, trucks, farm equipment, and other commercial vehicles. By allowing consumers to commute long distances for work, shopping, and entertainment, the auto industry has encouraged the development of an extensive road system, made possible the growth of suburbs and shopping centers around major cities, and played a key role in the growth of ancillary industries, such as the oil and travel businesses. The auto industry has become one of the largest purchasers of many key industrial products, such as steel. The large number of people the industry employs has made it a key determinant of economic growth.
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