Who invented the automobile, like many questions this defies an easy answer. Part of the problem is how you define the term. Using the definition of an automobile that we are familiar with today
“an automobile is a mobile machine driven by an internal combustion engine and capable of transporting human beings”. When we go with this definition, 19th century German engineer Karl Benz deserves credit, thanks to the vehicle he patented in 1886. But there were other self-propelled vehicles that were invented before this. For a fascinating discussion about the evolution of transport from early steam propelled models to the automobiles of today with photos of early examples see this interesting article on Bold Ride.
~Thanks to Craig Copelan for this post