Automobiles are self-propelled vehicles that can be driven on road systems. Their design varies to a great extent depending on the intended use, as well as the technical characteristics of the road system in which the vehicle is being used.
Automobile design incorporates a variety of components, including the engine, transmission, tires and brakes. The most important component is the engine, which powers the wheels by driving a gearbox. In addition, the automobile has an auxiliary device called a fuel pump that supplies gasoline to the engine.
The automobile’s first successful designs were produced by French and German engineers in the late 1800s, and Henry Ford introduced his Model T in 1908. These cars were simple, rugged, easy to operate and maintained, and were very popular with motorists of the day.
During the 1920s, automobile production peaked, but technology stagnated. Some major innovations, such as the closed all-steel body, high-compression engine, hydraulic brakes and syncromesh transmission, were in place by the end of the decade; other innovations, including drop-frame construction and automatic transmission, were still in the experimental stage.
New models of automobiles usually take three to five years from inception to production, during which the company’s designers try to predict public tastes and preferences. With the help of computer-aided design equipment, they develop basic concept drawings that are then translated into clay models by styling experts familiar with what the public will accept. Aerodynamic engineers also review these models, studying air-flow parameters and doing feasibility studies on crash tests.