Supercomputers provide automotive engineers with the necessary number-crunching capability to create increasingly sophisticated and realistic simulation models that are needed for the design and testing of future vehicles. This paper serves as a tutorial on the computational behavior of such machines and the implications for automotive applications. Characteristics of both U.S. (Cray, Control Data, ETA Systems) and Japanese (Fujitsu, Hitachi, and NEC) supercomputers are examined. Comparisons with conventional mainframes are presented along with the role of the new machines in a distributed computing environment. Supercomputer guidelines are given for program modification and performance evaluation. An extensive bibliography dealing with automotive-related issues is included as an appendix.