July 24, 2024

Automotive design


Automobiles of today are complicated technical system that has subsystems performing particular design tasks. They are made up of hundreds of components that result from advancements in current technological advancements or modern technologies like computer chips, ultra-high strength plastics and the development of new alloys made that comprise nonferrous and steel. Certain subsystems were created because of environmental circumstances like pollution of the air as well as safety regulations and the competition among manufacturers across the world.

Cars for passengers have become the main mode of transportation for families and are estimated to be 1.4 billion vehicles in operation around the world. Around one-quarter of them are located in the United States, in which over three trillion miles (almost five trillion kilometers) are travelled each year. In recent times, Americans have been offered numerous designs, half of which are by foreign manufacturers. To take advantage of their exclusive technological innovations manufacturers are introducing every day new designs. With more than 70 million new units created every year in the world Manufacturers have been able to break the market down into a variety of very specific segments, which are nevertheless profitable.

Britannica Money The key to buying a car How do you finance the purchase of a car

Innovative technological developments are believed as the key to winning in the race. Engineers and scientists have been utilized by all automakers and manufacturers to improve the body the chassis engines, drivetrains, safety systems, control systems, and emission control systems.

These remarkable technological advances have economic implications. According to a study conducted by Ward’s Communications Incorporated, the cost of a new American automobile increased by $4,700 (in relation to the worth of dollars) between the years 1980 between 1980 and 2001 due to the government-mandated emission control and safety specifications (such as the introduction of air bags as well as catalytic converters). The new requirements were implemented throughout the following years. The advent of computers is another reason for the rise in prices for cars, which rose by 29 percent between 2009 and 2019. This is in addition to expenses for consumers incurred by technological advancements in fuel efficiency which could be offset by a reduction in consumption of fuel.

Get an Britannica Premium subscription to get the privilege of exclusive information. Subscribe Now

The design of a vehicle is based heavily on the intended purpose. Cars intended for off-road usage must be simple, durable designs that can withstand extreme overloads and extreme operating conditions. In contrast, those designed for limited-access, high-speed road systems need more convenience options, improved engine performance, as well as optimized high-speed handling as well as stability of the vehicle. Stability is determined by the weight distribution between the rear and front wheels and the level of the center of gravity and its position in relation to the aerodynamic center of pressure in the vehicle, its suspension characteristics and the selection of wheels to be employed for propulsion. The weight distribution is determined by the location and size the engine. The practice of mounting front-mounted engines is to benefit from the stability better achieved with this design. The advancement of aluminum-based engines and modern manufacturing techniques have, however, enabled to place the engine in the rear, without sacrificing stability.


Fiat 600

The body styles of automobiles are usually classified according to how many doors and seats and roof structures. The roofs of automobiles are usually supported by pillars on every facet of the vehicle. Convertible models that have fabric tops that retract rely on the pillars located to the end of the windshield to provide the strength of the upper body, since the convertible mechanisms and glass areas are mostly non-structural. Glass area has been increased to increase visibility as well as aesthetic motives.

auto assembly line

The price of new factories makes it difficult for producers to develop completely new designs each year. New designs have typically been developed on three- to six-year intervals with minor improvements occurring throughout the course of the cycle. The past was when as much up to four years planning as well as new tools were required to create a brand new design. The use of computer-aided design (CAD) and testing through the using computer simulations as well as computer-aided production (CAM) methods can now be utilized to cut down the time required by 50 % or more. Check out the machine tool Computer-aided design as well as computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM).

Automotive bodies are usually made from sheets of steel. It is a mixture of steel using different elements to enhance the ability of it to be formed into deeper depressions without wrinkles or tearing when press presses for manufacturing. Steel is widely used due to its widespread availability, affordable cost, and excellent quality of workability. In certain situations However, other materials, including aluminum fiberglass or carbon-fibre strengthened polymer are employed because of their specific characteristics. Polyester, polyamide polystyrenepolypropylene and ethylene plastics are developed to provide greater strength in terms of dent resistance, as well as resistance to deformation due to brittleness. These are the materials used in body panels. Plastic components are generally crafted with tools. costs less and takes less time as compared to steel components, and can be modified by designers with a lower price.

To shield bodies from the effects of corrosive elements as well as to preserve their appearance and strength specific primers and painting methods are used. Bodies are first submerged in clean baths to get rid of the oil and other foreign material. Then, they go through an array of drip and spray cycle. Acrylic and enamel lacquer are both common use. Electrodeposition for spray paint A process where the paint spray is charged with electrostatic energy and then dragged to the surface using an extremely high voltage, it ensures that a uniform coat is applied, and that difficult to reach areas are coated. Ovens that have conveyor lines are utilized to speed up the drying process in the manufacturing facility. Galvanized steel coated with a zinc coat and corrosion resistant stainless steel are employed for body parts where it is more likely to corrosion.


In the majority of passenger cars up to the mid-20th century, a pressed steel frame — the chassis of the vehicle–formed a skeleton upon which the engines, wheels, axle assemblies, transmission, brakes, steering mechanism and suspension parts were mounted. The body was bolted flexibly to the chassis in the manufacturing process, which is commonly called body-on-frame construction. This technique is currently used for vehicles that are heavy-duty, such as trucks. They benefit from having a sturdy central frame that is subject to the forces that are involved when carrying the load and the absorbing of the movement of the axle and engine which is made possible through the use of a combination of frame and body.

In contemporary passenger car designs the chassis frame as well as the body are merged to form an element of structural construction. This arrangement is known as unibody (or the unibody) construction the body’s steel shell is strengthened by braces to make it stiff enough to withstand the force which are put on it. Frames that are separate or even partial “stub” frames have been employed in some vehicles to improve noise isolation. The more robust steel used in the modern designs of component parts can also help absorb energy in collisions and reduce intrusion during accidents.


A variety of engines have been utilized both in research and production. The most effective for cars is the gasoline-powered piston internal combustion engine which operates on the 4-stroke system as well as diesel engine are extensively used in buses and trucks. It is believed that the gas engine was initially chosen for cars because it could perform more easily across a broad range of speeds. Also, the power produced by an engine of a certain weight was reasonable. It could be made using cost-effective production methods and relied on a readily available and reasonably priced fuel. The reliability, compact size, emissions from exhaust and range of operation were key factors.

There is an ongoing review of these priorities, with a increasing emphasis on the reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions ( see greenhouse effect) or pollution-producing characteristics of car power systems. This has led to a renewed enthusiasm for alternative power sources and refinements of internal combustion engines which were previously not close enough to be economically practical. A number of battery-powered, limited-production electric automobiles are being sold currently. In the past, they had not been able to compete in terms of cost and their operating characteristics. Gasoline engines, equipped with new emission control systems that are designed to enhance efficiency in emissions is being confronted in recent years with hybrid systems which combine diesel or gasoline engines, electric motors and battery systems. These designs are, however more complicated, and consequently more expensive.

V-type engine

The development of high-performance engines within the United States led to the shift of the industry from straight, long engine cylinder designs to smaller V-type six and eight-cylinder layouts designed for larger vehicles (with horsepower ratings of up to 350). Smaller cars depend on smaller four-cylinder engines. European auto engines came in a greater variety, ranging from one to twelve cylinders with distinct differences in size, weight, displacement, and bores for cylinders. The majority of models featured four cylinders with horsepower ratings that ranged from 120 to 120. The majority of engines were either straight or mounted cylinders. However, there were many V-type and vertically opposed two- and four-cylinder designs. Camshafts with overheads were often used. Smaller engines were usually air-cooled and were located in the rear of the vehicle. The compression ratios were comparatively low. A growing interest in enhancing efficiency of fuel led to a return towards smaller, four-cylinder designs, with up to 5 valves for each cylinder to boost the efficiency. Variable valve timing for better efficiency and reduce emissions has been realized by manufacturers across the globe. Electronic controls automatically choose the best of two options within the cam to increase efficiency when engine speeds or load levels change.


Specially designed gasoline is basically the sole fuel for use in the automobile however, Diesel fuels are utilized in many buses and trucks, as well as some automobiles, and compressed liquid hydrogen has been tested experimentally. The main requirements of the fuel used in automobiles are the correct volatilitiessufficient antiknock quality, and a freedom from the emission of pollutants by combustion. The volatility is modified according to the season by refiners, so that enough gasoline vaporizes even in cold temperatures that allows an easy engine start. Antiknock quality is assessed by the the octane value for the fuel. The octane requirement of the automobile engine is dependent upon its the compression ratio of the engine. However, it can also be affected by the combustion chamber design, the condition of maintenance of the engine’s systems, as well as the build-up of chamber walls. Today,, standard gasoline was rated with an octane level of 87, and high-tests at 93.

Automobile makers have lobbied for rules that require the refinement of gasolines that burn cleaner that allow emission control devices to function at greater efficiency. This gasoline was initially accessible at certain services in California in the year 2017 and, from that point on, the major refiners and importers of gasoline across all of the United States were required to eliminate sulfur particles from their fuel at an average that was 10 parts for every million (ppm).

Fleets of vehicles powered with natural gas are operating for a number of years. Carbon monoxide and particulate emission are reduced by between 65 and 90 percent. Natural-gas fuel tanks need to be four times bigger than gasoline tanks in order for comparable vehicles to achieve the same range of driving. This limits the cargo capacity.

Ethanol ( ethyl alcohol) is usually mixed together with gasoline (15 parts to 85 parts) to increase its octane rating. This will result in a smoother engine. Ethanol however has an energy density that is lower than gasoline, resulting in lower efficiency per tankful.


gasoline engine lubrication system

Every moving part of automobiles require Lubrication. In absence of it, friction will cause an increase in the power usage and cause damage to the components. It also functions as a coolant, cushion that reduces noise, and also it acts as a sealant between the piston rings and the cylinder’s walls. The engine lubrication mechanism includes an type of gear pump that pumps filtering liquid at pressure into drill-through passageways that connect to a variety of bearings. Oil spray also lubricates valve lifters and cams.

Universal joints and wheel bearings need an extremely rigid grease and other joints in the chassis require the use of a flexible grease that can be injected with pressure guns. Transmissions that are hydraulic require particular type of lightweight hydraulic fluid that is manually shifted. transmissions make use of a stronger gear oil similar to that used for rear axles, to resist high forces on the teeth of the gear. Bearings and gears in devices that are loaded lightly like generators or window regulators, have been made using self-lubricating plastics. Hydraulic fluid can also be found in other vehicles together with small motors and electric pumps.

The cooling system

gasoline engine cooling system

Most cars use liquid cooling systems to cool their engines. A typical cooling system for cars includes (1) the series of channels incorporated into the block of the engine as well as the cylinder head enclosing the combustion chambers by the circulating of coolant or water to disperse excessive temperature, (2) a radiator comprised of a number of small tubes, each with fins that are arranged in a honeycomb to release heat quickly, and is able to cool hot liquid that is discharged from engines, (3) an axial-type centrifugal water pump is used to move coolant around, (4) an thermostat that maintains a an even temperature by automatically adjusting the amount of coolant flowing through the radiator and (5) an air-flow fan that draws fresh air into the radiator.

In order to operate at temperatures less than zero degC (32 degF) it is important to stop that the cooling agent from freezing. This is typically done by adding a substance like Ethylene glycol that will lower it to the temperature of freezing that the cooler. By altering the amount of additive, it’s possible to shield against the cooling system from freezing to the minimum temperature that is normally found. Coolants have corrosion inhibitors that are made to ensure that you empty and replenish the cooling system every couple of years.

Air-cooled engines operate at higher, more efficient temperatures. the air-cooling has the advantage of avoiding not just boiling and freezing of the coolant in extreme temperatures, but also the corrosion damages to cooling systems. Control of engine temperature is more difficult, however, and high-temperature-resistant ceramic parts are required when design operating temperatures are significantly increased.

Pressurized cooling systems are utilized to improve operating temperatures. Partly sealed systems that use cooler reservoirs to expand coolant if the engine is overheated were first created in the 1970s early on. Specially designed coolants that are not degraded with time, eliminating the need for yearly replacement.

Britannica QuizTransportation and Technology Firsts Quiz

Electric system

automotive electrical system

The electrical system consists of the generator, a battery for storage as well as a start (cranking) motor ignition system, lighting system, as well as various other devices and control. In the beginning, the electrical system in the automobile was restricted to the ignition system. After the introduction to the electronic starter in 1912 on a Cadillac model the electric lights and horns started replacing the lights made of acetylene and kerosene and bulb horns. Electricity was swift and comprehensive in the 1930s, and by then the 6-volt system was standard all over the world.

Higher engine speeds and increased pressures in the cylinders made it increasingly difficult to meet the high ignition voltage demands. The larger engines required greater cranking torque. Other electrically controlled features, such as radios, window regulators and multispeed windshield wipers – also were added to the system’s requirements. In order to meet these demands 12 volt systems replaced 6-volt systems by the end of the 1950s throughout the world.

Its ignition device creates the spark needed to ignite the air-fuel mix inside the cylinders of an engine. The system is comprised of spark plugs and coils, distributors as well as a batteries. To increase across the spark plugs’ electrodes the 12 volt potential of the electrical system needs to be increased to around 20000 voltages. This is achieved via a circuit which begins by connecting the battery and the other side of which has a grounded by the chassis. It then connects via the ignition switch, to the main winding on the coil. It then leads back to the ground via the interrupter switch. The interruption of the primary circuit causes an increase in voltage at its secondary end of coil. The high-voltage secondary end of the coil connects to a distributor which acts as a rotary switch in turn connecting the coil to the wires connecting to spark plugs.

The transistorized or solid-state ignition systems were developed during the 70s. These distributor systems added longevity by removing the frictional connections between distributor cams and breaker points. The breakpoint was replaced by the revolving generator of magnetic pulses in which pulses of alternating current trigger the high voltage required for ignition through an electronic amplifier circuit. Modifications to the timing of engine ignition can be made using either electronic controls or vacuum ( microprocessor) connections to the distributor.

automobile alternator

The main source of power to power the different electronic devices in the car is a generator or alternator that is driven by belts by the motor’s crankshaft. It is generally an alternating-current model with rectifiers that are built-in, as well as an internal voltage controller to adjust the generator’s output to the electrical load, and also to the requirements for charging the battery regardless of the engine’s speed.

car battery Cutaway view

A lead-acid batteries serves as a reservoir for the extra output from the generator. It provides energy to the starter motor as well as energy to run other electrical devices if the engine is not in operation or when the generator’s speeds are not high enough to support the demand.

The motor at the start is driven by a small spur designed so that it shifts into alignment with the gear teeth along the rim of the flywheel when the armature of the motor that starts begins to rotate. Once the engine is started it is disengaged from the gear which prevents any damage to the motor by excessive speed. The motor for starting is built to operate at large power use and provides a lot of power in its small size over the duration of.

Headlights need to adequately reflect light onto the roadway ahead of the vehicle to drive at night or in chilly conditions, without causing temporary blindness to drivers who are coming up. This is possible by modern vehicles that have double-filament lamps with two beams, a high and a lower beam, also known as sealed beam units. They were introduced in 1940 and the bulbs were widely used after World War II. These bulbs could only have one filament located at the center that was the reflection. Due to the higher light required for high-speed driving using the high beam, that filament for the low beam was positioned out of the center, leading to the result of a decrease in lighting efficiency. Different lamps for these purposes could also be utilized to increase the effectiveness of illumination.

The dimming process is automated in certain cars through the use of a switch controlled by a photocell in the lamp circuit, which is triggered by the flashes of a vehicle that is passing. Lamp clusters that were enclosed by aerodynamic plastic covers enabled significant drag reduction at the front end and increased fuel efficiency. With this arrangement, headlights that could be controlled were possible thanks to the help of an electrical motor to move the lamp assembly according to the steering wheel location. The regulations of different government agencies set the lighting brightness and field of vision specifications for car lights.

The signal lamps as well as other light sources for special purpose are becoming more popular from the 60s. The red and amber front signal lights flash as a way to indicate turning. All of these lights are flashed simultaneously within the “flasher” (hazard) system to be used when a vehicle is parked on a road or moving at a slow speed on a highway that is high. The lights of the marker that can be seen from the sides, front and rear are commonly required by the law. The red-colored rear signals are utilized to indicate brakes, as well as cornering lamps, when coupled with turning, offer additional lighting in the direction of the intended turn. Backup lights illuminate the rear of the vehicle and alert those who are behind the vehicle that the driver is slowing down. These high voltage LEDs, also known as light emitting diodes (LEDs) are created for a variety of lighting and signaling applications.


powertrain of a car with front-wheel drive

It is essential that the gas engine should be removed from the wheels driving it when it is first started, and also when it is idle. This makes it necessary to have some sort of engaging and unloading device to allow the gradual transfer of the load to the engine once it is launched. It is important to note that the torque or turning force that the engine can produce is minimal at low speeds on the crankshaft and then increases to a maximum at a fairly high speed which is the highest horsepower, or the maximum rating.

The effectiveness of an engine is greatest when the burden on the engine is very high while it is operating at a throttle is almost open. When traveling at moderate speeds on flat pavement, the power needed to drive an automobile is only a small fraction of the power required to propel it. When driving at a moderate speeds the engine could perform at an uneconomically low load, unless a means is available to alter the speed and power output.

The transmission is it is a device that alters speed. In the powertrain in between the motor and driving wheels the transmission allows the engine run at a faster speed when all the power is required, and then to reduce to an efficient speed in situations where less power is required. In certain situations, such as when starting an stationary vehicle, or on ascending gradients, the power of the engine isn’t enough and therefore amplification is required. The majority of devices used to alter the ratio of motor’s speed versus that of wheels driving it increase the torque of the engine with the same proportion through which the engine’s speed increases.

The most basic type of transmission for cars has a slide-spur gear model that has three or more speeds for forward and reverse speeds. The desired ratio of gears is determined through the manipulation of a shift lever that moves a spur gear into its right position to engage different gears. The clutch is needed to switch gears on and off in the process of selecting gears. The requirement of learning how to operate the clutch is eliminated with the use of an auto transmission. The majority of automatic transmissions utilize the hydro-torque converter that is a device to transmit and increase the torque generated from the motor. Each model allows the user to select reverse and low ranges, which are either unable to automatically upshift or use lower ratios of gear than those employed in normal driving. Some grade-retard features are added to provide an active engine braking in the event of a hill. Automated transmissions do not require little expertise to operate but also provide greater performance than that which is possible using designs that require the clutch to be activated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *