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European Alternative Fuels Observatory

EU classification of vehicle types

In the European Union, vehicles are classified according to UNECE standards, as implemented by: 

  • Regulation (EU) No 168/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2013 on the approval and market surveillance of two- or three-wheel vehicles and quadricycles. 
  • Directive 2007/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 September 2007 establishing a framework for the approval of motor vehicles and their trailers, and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles.

Throughout the European Alternative Fuels Observatory, vehicle data will be structured and presented in accordance with the UNECE vehicle categorisation.

Vehicle categories

based on UNECE standards

CategoryDefinition

Motor vehicles with less than four wheels and some lightweight four-wheelers. 

L1 

A two-wheeled vehicle with an engine cylinder capacity in the case of a thermic engine not exceeding 50 cm3 and whatever the means of propulsion a maximum design speed not exceeding 50 km/h. 

L2 

A three-wheeled vehicle of any wheel arrangement with an engine cylinder capacity in the case of a thermic engine not exceeding 50 cm3 and whatever the means of propulsion a maximum design speed not exceeding 50 km/h. 

L3 

A two-wheeled vehicle with an engine cylinder capacity in the case of a thermic engine exceeding 50 cm3 or whatever the means of propulsion a maximum design speed exceeding 50 km/h 

L4 

A vehicle with three wheels asymmetrically arranged in relation to the longitudinal median plane with an engine cylinder capacity in the case of a thermic engine exceeding 50 cm3 or whatever the means of propulsion a maximum design speed exceeding 50 km/h (motor cycles with sidecars). 

L5 

A vehicle with three wheels symmetrically arranged in relation to the longitudinal median plane with an engine cylinder capacity in the case of a thermic engine exceeding 50 cm3 or whatever the means of propulsion a maximum design speed exceeding 50 km/h. 

L6 

A vehicle with four wheels whose unladen mass is not more than 350 kg, not including the mass of the batteries in case of electric vehicles, whose maximum design speed is not more than 45 km/h, and whose engine cylinder capacity does not exceed 50 cm3 for spark (positive) ignition engines, or whose maximum net power output does not exceed 4 kW in the case of other internal combustion engines, or whose maximum continuous rated power does not exceed 4 kW in the case of electric engines. 

L7 

A vehicle with four wheels, other than that classified for the category L6, whose unladen mass is not more than 400 kg (550 kg for vehicles intended for carrying goods), not including the mass of batteries in the case of electric vehicles and whose maximum continuous rated power does not exceed 15 kW. 

Power-driven vehicles having at least four wheels and used for the carriage of passengers 

M1Vehicles used for the carriage of passengers and comprising not more than eight seats in addition to the driver's seat.

M2 

Vehicles used for the carriage of passengers, comprising more than eight seats in addition to the driver's seat, and having a maximum mass not exceeding 5 tonnes. 

M3 

Vehicles used for the carriage of passengers, comprising more than eight seats in addition to the driver's seat, and having a maximum mass exceeding 5 tonnes. 

Power-driven vehicles having at least four wheels and used for the carriage of goods 

N1 

Vehicles used for the carriage of goods and having a maximum mass not exceeding 3.5 tonnes. 

N2 

Vehicles used for the carriage of goods and having a maximum mass exceeding 3.5 tonnes but not exceeding 12 tonnes. 

N3 

Vehicles used for the carriage of goods and having a maximum mass exceeding 12 tonnes. 

Trailers 

O1 

Trailers with a maximum mass not exceeding 0.75 tonnes. 

O2 

Trailers with a maximum mass exceeding 0.75 tonnes, but not exceeding 3.5 tonnes. 

O3 

Trailers with a maximum mass exceeding 3.5 tonnes, but not exceeding 10 tonnes. 

O4 

Trailers with a maximum mass exceeding 10 tonnes. 

Motorised, wheeled or tracked agricultural or forestry vehicle having at least two axles and a maximum design speed of not less than 6 km/h, the main function of which lies in its tractive power and which has been especially designed to pull, push, carry and actuate certain interchangeable equipment designed to perform agricultural or forestry work, or to tow agricultural or forestry trailers or equipment; it may be adapted to carry a load in the context of agricultural or forestry work and/or may be equipped with one or more passenger seats. 

Agricultural trailer": means any agricultural or forestry vehicle intended mainly to be towed by a tractor and intended mainly to carry loads or to process materials and where the ratio of the technically permissible maximum laden mass to the unladen mass of that vehicle is equal to or greater than 3.0. 

Interchangeable towed equipment": means any vehicle used in agriculture or forestry which is designed to be towed by a tractor, changes or adds to its functions, permanently incorporates an implement or is designed to process materials, which may include a load platform designed and constructed to receive any tools and appliances needed for those purposes and to store temporarily any materials produced or needed during work and where the ratio of the technically permissible maximum laden mass to the unladen mass of that vehicle is less than 3.0. 

Off-road vehicles. 

 

Passenger car classification

As defined by the European Commission

Segment 

ACEA classification 

Description 

Small 

City cars, ex: Fiat 500, Opel Adam 

Small

Small cars, ex: Renault Clio, Ford Fiesta 

Lower Medium 

Medium cars, ex: Volkswagen Golf, Honda Civic 

Upper Medium 

Large cars, ex: BMW 3-Series, Volkswagen Passat 

Luxury 

Executive cars, ex: Audi A6, Mercedes CLS 

Luxury

Luxury cars, ex: Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7-Series 

Sport coupes, ex: Porsche 911, Peugeot RCZ 

SUV 

Sport utility cars, also known as Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV), ex: Volkswagen Tiguan, Mitsubishi Outlander 

MPV 

Multi purpose cars, also know as Multi Purpose Vehicles (MPV), ex: Renault Scénic, Ford S-Max 

Euro NCAP classification

As defined by the European New Car Assessment Programme

  • Business and Family Van
  • Executive
  • Large Family Car
  • Large MPV
  • Large Off-Road
  • Pick-up
  • Roadster
  • Sport
  • Small Family car
  • Small MPV
  • Small Off-Road
  • Supermini