Classifications or Types of Automobile [With PDF]

Before understanding the types of automobile, let us first have a look on what an automobile is?

What is an Automobile?

An automobile is a self-propelled vehicle, used for the transportation of passenger or goods. Generally, an automobile is run with the help of the Internal Combustion Engine powered by Petrol, Diesel, CNG, Electricity, etc.

Toyota Corolla (ZRE172R) SX sedan picture
Image of 2013-2016 Toyota Corolla (ZRE172R) SX Sedan

Types of Automobile:

Automobiles can be classified in several ways based on their nature, behavior, load capacity, design, and more. I have mentioned below some of the most important categorizations of Automobiles.

  • Based on the purpose of the vehicle.
  • Based on the load capacity of the vehicle.
  • Based on the fuel used by the vehicle.
  • Based on the number of wheels the vehicle has.
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  • Based on the suspension system of the vehicle.
  • Based on the driving end of the vehicle.
  • Based on the engine location.
  • Based on the transmission system of the vehicle.
  • Based on the body system of the vehicle.

Based on the Purpose of the Vehicle:

Automobiles are categorized based on the purpose of the vehicle as if an automobile is used as a good carrier or passenger carrier or used for any special usage.

For example, we can say the bus, mini-bus, car, etc. falls under the category of passenger carrier. Truck, Pick-up van, trailer, etc. falls under goods carrier, and fire brigade, school bus, police vehicle, ambulance, etc. falls under special usages vehicle.

Based on the Load Capacity of the Vehicle:

Light-duty vehicles, medium-duty vehicles, and heavy-duty vehicle falls under this category. Examples of light-duty vehicles such are private cars like Nano, Alto, Scorpio etc. or commercial vehicle like pick-up van, taxi, etc even scooter and motorcycle.

Examples of medium-duty vehicles are mini bus, school bus, etc. And the examples of heavy-duty vehicles are Volvo Bus, Truck, Tractor, etc. 

Based on the Fuel Used by the Vehicle:

Automobile vehicles can be categorized as the fuel used for vehicles like Petrol, Diesel, Electric, CNG, Solar, and Hybrid vehicles. 

Petrol is used as a fuel in general private vehicle like cars, two-wheelers, even light-weight commercial vehicles as well. Diesel is also used in cars, trucks, buses, JCB, etc. 

Compressed Natural Gas also named as CNG is also used a fuel. Cars like Audi A5 2.0 TFSI CNG (planned) (unveiled 12/07), BMW 3 Series (E36) 316g CNG, BMW 5 Series (E34) 518g CNG, Chevrolet Cavalier Bi-Fuel CNG, Citroën C3 1,4 GNV man, Citroën Berlingo Multispace 1,4 GNV (MPV) man, Dacia Logan 1,6 K4M CNG, Fiat Panda Natural Power, Fiat 500 Natural Power, etc. [Credit’s goes to Wikipedia for data] is using CNG as a fuel.

Nowadays, electric cars are also running on the roads. These cars gain power with the help of batteries i.e. Tesla, Mahindra Battery Cars, etc. Solar vehicles are also a kind an electric vehicle. Here the electricity is generated with the help of solar photovoltaic cells which converts direct sunlight into electricity. These types of vehicles are not in the market for commercial usage as of now but in the future, it will be widespread. 

In the case of hybrid vehicles, two or more power sources are used to drive the vehicle like diesel-electric vehicles, turbo-electric vehicles. However, researches are going on in this area to improve the efficiency of these types of vehicles.

Based on the Number of Wheels the Vehicle Has:

Automobiles can be classified based on the number of wheels a vehicle has, for example:

  • Two Wheeler Vehicle (Motor Cycle, Scooter).
  • Three Wheeler Vehicle (Auto, Toto, etc.).
  • Four Wheeler Vehicle (Cars, Bus, Truck, Tractor, etc.).
  • Six Wheeler vehicle (Bus, Trucks, etc.).
  • Eight Wheeler Vehicle (Bus, Trucks, etc.).
  • More than Eight Wheeler Vehicle (Trucks, Trailer, etc.).

Based on the Suspension System of the Vehicle:

Based on the suspension system automobile can be classified as follows:

Independent Suspension System:

It is generally used in Front Axle of the vehicle. In this suspension system, only one wheel is adjusted accordingly to the road condition. There is little to zero effect on the opposite wheel. i.e. Mac Pherson Strut, Wishbone, etc. suspension system.

Non-Independent or Rigid Suspension System:

Here both the wheels are attached to the same axle. That means when one wheel comes in contact with any bump or uneven road the other one will also change its position may be tilt or mover upwards or downwards. This is generally used in heavy-duty vehicles such as truck, bus, etc. i.e. solid axle leaf spring, solid-axle coil spring. 

Air Suspension System:

As the name denotes in this suspension system air is used. Here the air is feed into an airbag with the help of air-compressor under the pressure of 5.6-7 kg/square meter which is used as a suspension system.

These are the suspension systems which are used widely, however, there are several more types of suspension systems.

Based on the Driving End of the Vehicle:

If we consider the driving end then an automobile vehicle will be classified into two types:

  • Right Side Drive (Countries like Belgium, Ethiopia, etc. use right-side drive vehicles.)
  • Left Side Drive (Countries like India, Bangladesh, Australia, etc. use left-side drive vehicles.)

Based on the Engine Location:

If we consider engine then automobile can be categorized as:

  • Front Engine Front Wheel
  • Front Engine Rear Wheel
  • Rear Engine Front Wheel
  • Rear Engine Rear Wheel Drive
  • Front Engine All Wheel Drive
  • Rear Engine All Wheel Drive

Based on the Transmission System of the Vehicle:

Based on the transmission system automobiles are classified into three types:

  • Manual Transmission System
  • Automatic Transmission System
  • Semi-automatic and dual-clutch Transmissions System
  • Continuously Variable Transmission System

Manual Transmission System:

It is also called a conventional transmission system where we use friction clutch which is attached to the driving shaft. When the driver needs to change the gear he needs to press the clutch and use the hand to shift the gear manually.

Automatic Transmission System:

This type of transmission system is quite popular these days. Here we use a torque converter to transmit the rotational energy. Gear changes are controlled by the automobile’s computer system by the use of planetary gears, clutches, and brakes.

Semi-Automatic and Dual-Clutch Transmissions System:

It is a mix of Manual and Automatic transmission systems. Gear change in this type of transmission system is very fast.

Continuously Variable Transmission System:

 In this type of transmission system, we use belts and pulleys instead of gears. It is also an automatic transmission system. 

Based on the Body System of the Vehicle:

This type of vehicle is categorized in to the following types:

  • Two-door sedan (This type of vehicles has two doors, and a sporty look.)
  • Hardtop (It has a rigid rooftop, it may detach or may not).
  • Four-door sedan (This type of vehicles has four doors).
  • Station wagon (Here the roof of the vehicle is extended towards the rear side).
  • Convertible (Can have a roof or no roof).
  • Van (It is generally used to transport goods).

More Resources:

Media Credits:

  • Image of 2013-2016 Toyota Corolla (ZRE172R) SX Sedan by EurovisionNim.


  • Automobile Engineering: K.K. Jain & R B Asthana
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