Motor vehicle

As a motor vehicle (abbreviation: car ), in Switzerland motor vehicle, refers to a " driven by a motor, not tied to rail vehicle " ( Duden ). In § 2 No. 1 of the German Vehicle Registration Regulation, motor vehicles are defined as "non- permanent track-guided ground vehicles, which are moved by machines force ". In other countries, this definition applies analogously.

Motor vehicle, as road vehicles because the tracking is usually achieved by friction on flat or uneven surface. Rail vehicles are not counted in spite of the motor drive to the motor vehicles. Similar definitions can be found in the traffic rights laws, as in the German Road Traffic Act (§ 1 para 2 Road Traffic Act ), the Austrian Road Traffic Regulations ( § 2Vorlage: § / Maintenance / RIS - search) or the Swiss Road Traffic Act ( Article 7).

  • 6.1 Germany
  • 6.2 Austria
  • 6.3 Switzerland


Vehicle and body types ( national)

For the uniform recording of vehicle data entered on 01/10/2005 the directory to the systematization of motor vehicles and their trailers of the Federal Motor Vehicle Office in force. Be listed among other EC vehicle classes, emission classes, vehicle and body types (national ) as well as types of fuel or energy sources. Among the motor vehicles therefore include ( in brackets are the equivalent abbreviations ):

  • Two - and three-wheeled and light four-wheel motor vehicles ( motor vehicles), EU vehicle category L Mopeds Scooters ( mopeds ) (also powered bicycles and electric scooters )
  • Lightweight motor
  • 3 -wheel 50 cc, 45 km / h / Piaggio Ape 50
  • 4 -wheel, less than 350 kg to 50 cc and 4 kW
  • Motorcycles ( Krad ) in the road traffic legislation categories
  • Light motorcycles / scooters
  • Auto rickshaw / tuk -tuk
  • Voiturette
  • Quad / All Terrain Vehicle
  • Bubble Car / Piaggio Ape / Moped Car / Trike / light vehicle
  • Passenger vehicles with at least four wheels
  • Automobile all types of drives
  • Amphibious vehicles ashore
  • Snowmobile
  • Commercial vehicle (CV ) / commercial vehicles ( CVs )
  • Catenary trucks
  • Agricultural or forestry tractors / tractor
  • Construction, unless on rails
  • Special Truck wrecker
  • Two-wheel tractor
  • Vehicles of the fire department (eg ladder, pumper )
  • Vehicles of the civil protection ( eg equipment vehicle, physician squad cars )
  • Land-based life-saving equipment (eg ambulances, ambulance, ambulance )
  • Municipal vehicles (eg, garbage trucks, street sweepers, sewer cleaning machines)

International classification ( EC vehicle classes)

For a more detailed specification vehicles were divided into vehicle classes according to the EC Directive 70/156/EEC:

  • L Single Lane L1 mopeds
  • L2 Motorway mopeds
  • L3 motorcycles
  • L4 motorcycles with sidecars
  • L5 motor tricycles
  • L6 4- wheeled light motor vehicle
  • L7 4- wheeled motor vehicle (maximum net power 15 kW, empty weight up to 400 kg to 550 kg for the carriage of goods (excluding batteries for electric vehicles ) )
  • M Motor vehicles for the transport of persons with at least four wheels M1 vehicles with more than 8 seats ( excluding the driver )
  • M2 vehicles with more than 8 seats under 5 tons
  • M3 vehicles with more than 8 seats over 5 tons
  • N Motor vehicles for transport of goods with at least four wheels N1 vehicles with a gross vehicle weight up to 3.5 t.
  • N2 vehicles with a gross vehicle weight up to 12 t.
  • N3 vehicles with a gross vehicle weight exceeding 12 tonnes.
  • O trailers and semi-trailers O1 trailers up to 750 kg ( light trailers )
  • O2 trailers up to 3.5 t
  • O3 trailer up to 10 t
  • O4 trailer exceeding 10 tonnes


The vehicle consists of a number of parts, which are combined in aggregates and separate assemblies. The direct and indirect interaction of all components ensures the proper functioning of the automobile. The main components include:

  • Motor
  • Power transmission
  • Landing gear
  • Called body or structure
  • Vehicle electrics / electronics


Engines are machines that produce energy by converting mechanical driving force. In the automotive industry primarily combustion engines are used currently.

Subdivision of the internal combustion engine is carried out according to several criteria:

  • According to the design Reciprocating engine (now predominant construction)
  • Called rotary engine, even Wankel or rotary engine ( only occasionally installed )
  • Gas turbine ( only for tanks, otherwise only in experimental vehicles )
  • Steam engine (deprecated)
  • After the energy sources used (fuel) Car with wood gasifier Petrol engine (gasoline engine )
  • Diesel engine
  • Multi-fuel engine
  • Wood gas
  • According to the principle of action Two stroke ( older cars and motorcycles)
  • Four-stroke (current cars, trucks and many motorcycles )

After petrol - and diesel- powered vehicles for a long time dominated the automotive, allow increased environmental awareness and the rise in price as well as foreseeable reduction in the availability of petroleum- based fuels also move alternative fuels and alternative drive concepts back into the field of automotive developers and producers.

Alternative fuels can be:

  • For reciprocating engines: Biogenic fuels (bioethanol, biodiesel 1st and 2nd generation )
  • Petroleum gas ( already long in use, moving back proliferated in focus)
  • Natural gas
  • Hydrogen
  • Methane or methanol

The alternative drive systems are implemented or supplemented in part by electrification of the powertrain:

  • Electric drive
  • Hybrid drive

Power transmission

The power transmission includes all components which are arranged in the drive train between the engine and the drive wheels. Main functions of the transmission, the transmission, distribution and regulation of the torque and the rotational speed.

Part of the transmission:

  • Differential gear referred to as a differential gear, or differential
  • Vehicle transmission
  • PTO shaft or chain
  • Coupling
  • Transfer Case

Landing gear

As chassis refers to the parts of the vehicle, which serve the power transmission from the vehicle body to the road and which determine or influence the driving behavior of a vehicle.

The vast majority of vehicles are propelled by wheels. For vehicles that are to be moved in difficult areas, such as certain excavator or battle tanks chain drives are used. There are also exotic landing gear as the worm drive of the Russian ZiL - 29061 or vehicle with mechanical legs like the Mondo Spider or the clumsy Walking Machine.

For chassis include:

  • Brake system
  • Suspension and dampers
  • Steering
  • Suspension
  • Wheels and tires

The chassis is used in its entirety to make the motor vehicle to drive. Besides being able to change direction, the chassis must also keep on bumpy tracks the constant contact with the road, so as to transmit forces.

Currently, commonly used in most cars and buses at an independent suspension. For SUVs and trucks still come rigid axles for use. There occasionally comes also the leaf spring as the spring element for use while otherwise dominate torsion bar and coil springs. In particular, for buses and trucks, however, the air suspension is increasingly used which allows an easy adaptation to the loading. When the car air suspension for reasons of cost so far reserved for the upper class. The concept of modern air suspension has already been invented as hydropneumatics early 1950s Citroën.


A body is defined as the structure and the panel of the motor vehicle.

There are three different types:

  • Load-bearing construction
  • Frame construction
  • Self-supporting structure

In the frame construction body and frame form a separate unit and are elastically connected to each other. This construction method is primarily used in the truck world. In the self-supporting construction, a stiffened bottom group takes over the function of the frame. The entire assembly forms a single unit. This design is mainly used in car construction. In the co-supporting ligand design of the frame to the body through sweat or screw is firmly connected.

Vehicle electrics / electronics

For the electrical system of the motor vehicle includes all live components. These are:

  • Lighting device
  • Board network
  • Vehicle battery
  • Generator
  • Motor control
  • Starter
  • Ignition
  • Other electrical equipment airbag systems
  • Gauges and warning lights
  • Theft warning systems
  • Driver assistance system
  • Direction indicator
  • Air conditioning
  • Comfort Systems
  • Night View Assist
  • Horns
  • Engine preheater
  • Immobilizers
  • Central

Environmental protection, landscape protection

The vehicles on the road are the main cause of road with all its consequences ( surface sealing, deforestation, etc.). Since it is in the vast majority is vehicles with internal combustion engines (more precisely, with the generated power by internal combustion engines ) are driven, the car is one of the causes of air pollution. From the viewpoint of environmental protection to energy-saving cars can be distinguished from the usual motor vehicles, see 3 -liter car. This is particularly important with regard to the emission of carbon dioxide which generates the greenhouse effect.

Number of passenger cars by fuel types


From 1.1.2008 only registered vehicles without temporary closures / shut ratios.



Driving license

The use of a motor vehicle on public land uses in almost every country in the world requires the possession of a license, which can be subject to conditions and limitations. A driving license documents this permission.


In connection with motor vehicles, some taxes are levied. In addition to the purpose of raising money states have employed this tool also to reduce the environmental damage caused by vehicles. In addition to the consumption-based mineral oil, there is the time-based motor vehicle tax, and (more rarely, for example in Denmark) a registration tax. In Austria there is also the standard fuel consumption tax ( NoVA ), which is payable on first registration of a vehicle in the country.

Research institutions on the subject of motor vehicle

  • AVL List GmbH, Graz
  • Department of Automotive Engineering at the Technical University of Darmstadt
  • FEV Engine Technology GmbH, Aachen
  • Research Institute of Automotive Engineering and Vehicle Engines Stuttgart
  • Engineering company cars and traffic ( IAV GmbH), Berlin
  • Institute of Automotive Engineering Aachen ( ika) of RWTH Aachen
  • Institute for Land and Sea Transport, Department of motor vehicles of TU Berlin (ILS motor vehicles )