The need for a transmission in an automobile is a consequence of the characteristics of the internal combustion engine. Engines typically operate over a range of 600 to about 7000 revolutions per minute (though this varies, and is typically less for diesel engines), while the car's wheels rotate between 0 rpm and around 1800 rpm.
Furthermore, the engine provides its highest torque outputs approximately in the middle of its range, while often the greatest torque is required when the vehicle is moving from rest or traveling slowly. Therefore, a system that transforms the engine's output so that it can supply high torque at low speeds, but also operate at highway speeds with the motor still operating within its limits, is required. Transmissions perform this transformation. The transmission allows the gear ratio between the engine and the drive wheels to change as the car speeds up and slows down.