An electric vehicle speedometer is a device used to measure the traveling speed of a vehicle, usually for the purpose of maintaining a sensible pace. Its development and eventual status as a standard feature in automobiles led to the enforcement of legal speed limits, a notion that had been in practice since the inception of horseless carriages but had gone largely ignored by the general public. Today, no automobile is equipped without a speedometer intact; it is fixed to a vehicle's cockpit and usually shares a housing with an odometer, which is a mechanism used to record total distance traveled. Two basic types of automobile speedometer, mechanical and electronic, are currently produced.
Materials used in the production of speedometers vary with the type of gauge and intended application. Older mechanical models were entirely comprised of steel and other metal alloys, but in later years about 40% of the parts for a mechanical speedometer were molded from various plastic polymers. Newer electronic models are almost entirely made of plastics, and design engineers continually upgrade the polymers used. For example, the case of a speedometer's main assembly is usually made of nylon, but some manufacturers now employ the more water-resistant polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) polyester. The worm drive and magnet shaft are also nylon, as is the speedometer's gear train and spindles. The glass display lens of the recent past is now made of transparent polycarbonate, a strong, flexible plastic that is resistant to heat, moisture, and impact.