Normally dubbed as the ‘25 years prior to the current year’, the Modern Era has been one of increasing standarization, computer-aided design and platform sharing. Some of the greatest innovations to arrive during this period included front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive and the adaptation of the V6 engine configuration along with the utilization of fuel injection. These advances were attempted in previous eras, but they now dominate the market unlike any other time period.
Since the very first steam-powered vehicles were introduced in the 1700’s, the automobile industry has steamrolled in leaps and bounds. It took more than a century before cars were mass produced and in 1888 Karl Benz began manufacturing assembly line vehicles in Germany. Following this, the spread to mass production in other European countries and in the USA began and this contributed to the development in the car industry worldwide.
Today, nearly all modern vehicles are front wheel drive uni-body designs with transversely-mounted engines. This was a concept considered radical even as recent as the 1960s. Rapidly rising fuel efficiency and engine output has also been on the rise during the modern era. Following the vehicle emissions concerns of the 1970’s being settled with the introduction of computerized engine management systems, power now raised steadily.
Though relatively recent concepts, today the hatchback, minivan and sport utility vehicle now dominate today’s automobile market. Pickup trucks have risen in popularity in the U.S. along with SUV’s changing the face of motoring today. Some examples of fantastic modern vehicles are the 1966 to present Toyota Corolla; a small sedan that has morphed into the best selling vehicle of all time. The 1970-present Range Rover was also the industries first take on combining luxury, four-wheel drive utility and the premier, original SUV.
One of the largest and most innovative design inspirations to come from this period was the utilization of independent suspension in vehicles. It advocated a ‘wilder application of the fuel injection system’ and increased the focus on the safety aspect of vehicle design. Other major technical innovations of this time period include the Gas turbine, the Wankel engine and the Turbocharger.