Concept

Mid-engine design

Summary
In automotive engineering, a mid-engine layout describes the placement of an automobile engine in front of the rear-wheel axles, but behind the front axle. The mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive format can be considered the original layout of automobiles. A 1901 Autocar was the first gasoline-powered automobile to use a drive shaft and placed the engine under the seat. This pioneering vehicle is now in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution. Mounting the engine in the middle instead of the front of the vehicle puts more weight over the rear tires, so they have more traction and provide more assistance to the front tires in braking the vehicle, with less chance of rear-wheel lockup and less chance of a skid or spin out. If the mid-engine vehicle is also rear-drive the added weight on the rear tires can also improve acceleration on slippery surfaces, providing much of the benefit of all-wheel-drive without the added weight and expense of all-wheel-drive components. The mid-engine layout makes ABS brakes and traction control systems work better, by providing them more traction to control. The mid-engine layout may make a vehicle safer since an accident can occur if a vehicle cannot stay in its own lane around a curve or is unable to stop quickly enough. Mid-engine design is also a way to provide additional empty crush space in the front of the automobile between the bumper and the windshield, which can then be designed to absorb more of the impact force in a frontal collision in order to minimize penetration into the passenger compartment of the vehicle. In most automobiles, and in sports cars especially, ideal car handling requires balanced traction between the front and rear wheels when cornering, in order to maximize the possible speed around curves without sliding out. This balance is harder to achieve when the heavy weight of the engine is located far to the front or far to the rear of the vehicle. Some automobile designs strive to balance the fore and aft weight distribution by other means, such as putting the engine in the front and the gearbox and battery in the rear of the vehicle.
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