Automobile engineering is a branch study of engineering which teaches manufacturing, designing, mechanical mechanisms as well operations of automobiles. It is an introduction to vehicle engineering which deals with motorcycles, cars, buses, trucks, etc. It includes branch study of mechanical, electronic, software and safety elements. Some of the engineering attributes and disciplines that are of importance to the automotive engineer and many of the other aspects are included in it:
Safety engineering: Safety engineering is the assessment of various crash scenarios and their impact on the vehicle occupants. These are tested against very stringent governmental regulations. Some of these requirements include: seat belt and air bag functionality testing, front and side impact testing, and tests of rollover resistance. Assessments are done with various methods and tools, including Computer crash simulation (typically finite element analysis), crash test dummy, and partial system sled and full vehicle crashes.
Fuel economy/emissions: Fuel economy is the measured fuel efficiency of the vehicle in miles per gallon or kilometers per liter. Emissions testing includes the measurement of vehicle emissions, including hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), and evaporative emissions.
NVH engineering (noise, vibration, and harshness): NVH is the customer's feedback (both tactile [felt] and audible [heard]) from the vehicle. While sound can be interpreted as a rattle, squeal, or hot, a tactile response can be seat vibration or a buzz in the steering wheel. This feedback is generated by components either rubbing, vibrating, or rotating. NVH response can be classified in various ways: powertrain NVH, road noise, wind noise, component noise, and squeak and rattle. Note, there are both good and bad NVH qualities. The NVH engineer works to either eliminate bad NVH or change the “bad NVH” to good (i.e., exhaust tones).
Vehicle electronics: Automotive electronics is an increasingly important aspect of automotive engineering. Modern vehicles employ dozens of electronic systems. These systems are responsible for operational controls such as the throttle, brake and steering controls; as well as many comfort and convenience systems such as the HVAC, infotainment, and lighting systems. It would not be possible for automobiles to meet modern safety and fuel economy requirements without electronic controls.
Performance: Performance is a measurable and testable value of a vehicle's ability to perform in various conditions. Performance can be considered in a wide variety of tasks, but it's generally associated with how quickly a car can accelerate (e.g. standing start 1/4 mile elapsed time, 0–60 mph, etc.), its top speed, how short and quickly a car can come to a complete stop from a set speed (e.g. 70-0 mph), how much g-force a car can generate without losing grip, recorded lap times, cornering speed, brake fade, etc. Performance can also reflect the amount of control in inclement weather (snow, ice, rain).
A development engineer has the responsibility for coordinating delivery of the engineering attributes of a complete automobile (bus, car, truck, van, SUV, motorcycle etc.) as dictated by the automobile manufacturer, governmental regulations, and the customer who buys the product.
Much like the Systems engineer, the development engineer is concerned with the interactions of all systems in the complete automobile. While there are multiple components and systems in an automobile that have to function as designed, they must also work in harmony with the complete automobile. As an example, the brake system's main function is to provide braking functionality to the automobile. Along with this, it must also provide an acceptable level of: pedal feel (spongy, stiff), brake system “noise” (squeal, shudder, etc.), and interaction with the ABS (anti-lock braking system)
Another aspect of the development engineer's job is a trade-off process required to deliver all of the automobile attributes at a certain acceptable level. An example of this is the trade-off between engine performance and fuel economy. While some customers are looking for maximum power from their engine, the automobile is still required to deliver an acceptable level of fuel economy. From the engine's perspective, these are opposing requirements. Engine performance is looking for maximum displacement (bigger, more power), while fuel economy is looking for a smaller displacement engine (ex: 1.4 L vs. 5.4 L). The engine size however, is not the only contributing factor to fuel economy and automobile performance. Different values come into play.
Other attributes that involve trade-offs include: automobile weight, aerodynamic drag, transmission gearing, emission control devices, handling/roadholding, ride quality, and tires.
The development engineer is also responsible for organizing automobile level testing, validation, and certification. Components and systems are designed and tested individually by the Product Engineer. The final evaluation is to be conducted at the automobile level to evaluate system to system interactions. As an example, the audio system (radio) needs to be evaluated at the automobile level. Interaction with other electronic components can cause interference. Heat dissipation of the system and ergonomic placement of the controls need to be evaluated. Sound quality in all seating positions needs to be provided at acceptable levels.