Word Origin & History
1883, in ref. to electric traction cars, from Fr. automobile (adj.), 1861, from Gk. autos "self" + Fr. mobile "moving," from L. mobilis "movable." Meaning "self-propelled motor vehicle" is from 1895, from Fr., short for véhicule automobile. The modern Gk. calls it autokineto "moved of itself."
The Fr. word had competition in the early years from locomobile; in Eng. other early forms were motorcar and autocar.