Dimensions and Weight

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Vehicle size classes are a way of classifying cars. The common North American parlance is word-based, while English-speaking European writers also use words to describe car sizes. In parts of Asia, segment letters are sometimes used.

Contents

North America

USA regulations

American government defined size of Federal Regulations, Title 40—Protection of Environment, Section 600.315-82 Classes of comparable automobiles. Passenger car classes are defined based on interior volume index or seating capacity, except the ones classified as special vehicle. A two seater is classified as a car with no more than two designated seating positions. Others as follows:

Class Minicompact car Subcompact car Compact car Midsize car Large car
Interior combined passenger and cargo volume index in cubic feet (liters) under 85 (2407) 85-99.9 (2407-2831) 100-109.9 (2832-3114) 110-119.9 (3115-3397) 120 (3398) or over
Station wagons
Class Small station wagon Midsize station wagon Large station wagon
Interior volume index in cubic feet (liters) under 130 (3681) 130-160 (3681-4531) over 160 (4531)

Nonpassenger automobiles are defined as small pickup trucks, standard pickup trucks, vans, and special purpose vehicles. Pickup trucks is separated from car line based on gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). For pickup truck car lines with more than one GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating), the GVWR of the pickup truck car line is the arithmetic average of all distinct GVWR's less than or equal to 8,500 pounds available for that car line.

Class Small pickup truck Standard pickup truck Van
GVWR in pound (kg) under 4500 (2041) 4500-8500 (2041-3856) undefined

Special purpose vehicle is defined as automobile with GVWR less than or equal to 8,500 pounds which possess special features that are more appropriately classified separately from typical automobiles or which do not meet the definitions of above mentioned classes.

Interior volume index is calculated differently for different vehicle classes:

  • For passenger automobiles, it is calculated for each car line which is not a two seater. For car lines with more than one body style, the interior volume index for the car line is the arithmetic average of the interior volume indexes of each body style in the car line.
  • For all body styles except station wagons and hatchbacks with more than one seat (e.g., with a second or third seat) equipped with seatbelts as required by DOT safety regulations, interior volume index is the sum, rounded to the nearest 0.1 cubic feet (2.8 L), of the front seat volume, the rear seat volume, if applicable, and the luggage capacity.
  • For all station wagons and hatchbacks with more than one seat (e.g., with a second or third seat) equipped with seat belts as required by DOT safety regulations, interior volume index is the sum, rounded to the nearest 0.1 cubic feet (2.8 L), of the front seat volume, the rear seat volume, and the cargo volume index.

All dimensions and volumes shall be determined from the base vehicles of each body style in each car line, and do not include optional equipment.

Front seat volume is calculated as product of:

  • Effective head room-front
  • Average of shoulder and hip room-front, if hip room is more than 5 inches (130 mm) less than shoulder room; Shoulder room-front, if hip room is not more than 5 inches (130 mm) less than shoulder room
  • Maximum effective leg room-accelerator

Rear seat volume is calculated for vehicles within a rear seat equipped with rear seat belts (as required by DOT), as product of:

  • Effective head room-second
  • Average of shoulder and hip room-second, if hip room is more than 5 inches (130 mm) less than shoulder room; Shoulder room-second, if hip room is not more than 5 inches (130 mm) less than shoulder room
  • Minimum effective leg room-second

For passenger automobiles with no rear seat or with a rear seat but no rear seat belts, the area to the rear of the front seat shall be included in the determination of usable luggage capacity.

Cargo volume index is calculated as follows:

  • For station wagon, it is the product of Shoulder room-second, Cargo height, Cargo length at belt-second.
  • For hatchback, it is the product of:
    • Average cargo length, the arithmetic average of Cargo length at second seatback height-hatchback and Cargo length at floor-second-hatchback
    • Shoulder room-second
    • Second seatback to load floor height.

Canada regulations

Cars are divided into six classes based on interior volume. An interior volume index is calculated from the combined passenger and trunk or cargo space. Pickup trucks, special purpose vehicles and vans are segmented in their own respective classes.

Class Two-seater Subcompact car Compact car Mid-size car Full-size car
Interior size in litres (cubic feet) undefined under 2830 (99.9) 2830-3115 (99.9-110) 3115-3400 (110-120) over 3400 (120)
Class Station wagon Pickup truck Special purpose vehicle Minivan Large van
Interior size  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?

The above definitions of vehicle classes are not defined in Canadian regulations, but by Fuel Consumption Guide published by Natural Resources Canada.

Other vehicle classes are listed in On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations (SOR/2003-2), officially published in Canada Gazette Part 2, Vol. 137 No. 1:

Class light light-duty truck light-duty truck heavy light-duty truck heavy-duty vehicle medium-duty passenger vehicle
GVWR in kg (pounds) 2722 (6000) or under 3856 (8500) or under over 2722-3856 (6000-8500) over 3856 (8500) same as heavy-duty vehicle
Curb weight in kg (pounds) 2722 (6000) or under 2722 (6000) or under 2722 (6000) or under over 2722 (6000) under 4536 (10000)
Frontal area in m² (square feet) max 4.2 (45.2) max 4.2 (45.2) max 4.2 (45.2) over 4.2 (45.2) same as heavy-duty vehicle

In case of light-duty trucks, all 3 conditions must be met, otherwise it is classified as heavy-duty vehicle. In addition, light-duty must also be:

  • designed primarily for the transportation of property or that is a derivative of a vehicle that is designed for that purpose;
  • designed primarily for the transportation of persons and has a designated seating capacity of more than 12 persons; or
  • available with special features that enable it to be operated and used off-road, the special features being four-wheel drive and at least four of the following characteristics, that are calculated when the vehicle is at curb weight and on a level surface with the front wheels parallel to the vehicle's longitudinal centreline and the tires are inflated to the manufacturer's recommended pressure:
    • an approach angle of not less than 28 degrees
    • break-over angle of not less than 14 degrees,
    • a departure angle of not less than 20 degrees,
    • ground clearances of not less than 17.8 cm under the front and rear axles, and
    • a ground clearance of not less than 20.3 cm under any point other than the front or rear axle.

Medium-duty passenger vehicle is classified as a heavy-duty vehicle that is designed primarily for the transportation of persons but does not include any vehicle that

  • is a truck that is incomplete because it does not have a primary load carrying device or container attached;
  • has a seating capacity of more than 12 persons;
  • is designed to seat more than 9 persons behind the driver; or
  • is equipped with an open cargo area (for example, a pick-up truck box or bed) of 183 cm in interior length or more or with a covered box not readily accessible from the passenger compartment.

Motorcycle is classified as an on-road vehicle with a headlight, taillight and stoplight that has two or three wheels and a curb weight of 793 kg or less, but does not include a vehicle that has an engine displacement of less than 50 cc, or that, with an 80 kg (176 pound) driver:

  • cannot start from a dead stop using only the engine; or
  • cannot exceed a speed of 40 km/h on a level paved surface.

Europe

Vehicle segments in Europe do not have formal characterization or regulations. Models segments tend to be based on comparison to well known brand models. For example, a car such as the Volkswagen Golf might be described as being in the Ford Focus size class, or vice versa. The VW Polo is smaller, so it belongs one segment below the Golf, while the bigger Passat is one segment above.

This is a table listing several different methods of car classification.



American English British English Euro Car Segment[1] Euro NCAP 1997 - 2009 Euro NCAP[2] Examples
Microcar Microcar, Bubble car A-segment mini cars Supermini Passenger car Isetta, Smart Fortwo
Subcompact car City car Renault Twingo, Peugeot 107, Ford Ka, Fiat 500, Tata Nano, Suzuki Alto
Supermini B-segment small cars Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo, Opel Corsa, Citroën DS3, Peugeot 207
Compact car Small family car C-segment medium cars Small family car Ford Focus, Opel Astra, Toyota Auris, Volkswagen Golf, Chevrolet Cruze
Mid-size car Large family car D-segment large cars Large family car Ford Mondeo, Hyundai Sonata, Opel Insignia, Chevrolet Malibu, IKCO Samand
Entry-level luxury car Compact executive car Acura TSX, Alfa Romeo 159, Mercedes C-Class, BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Cadillac CTS
Full-size car Executive car E-segment executive cars Executive car Ford Crown Victoria, Holden Commodore, Toyota Crown, Chevrolet Impala
Mid-size luxury car Lexus GS, BMW 5 Series, Jaguar XF, Lincoln LS, Volvo S80, Chrysler 300
Full-size luxury car Luxury car F-segment luxury cars  - Audi A8, Maserati Quattroporte, Mercedes S-Class, Cadillac DTS
Sports car Sports car S-segment sport coupes  - Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche 911, Ferrari 458 Italia, Nissan Z-car, Lamborghini Gallardo
Grand tourer Grand tourer  - Jaguar XK, Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, Maserati GranTurismo
Supercar Supercar  - Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari Enzo, Pagani Zonda
Convertible Convertible  - BMW 6 Series, Mercedes CLK, Volvo C70, Volkswagen Eos, Chevrolet Camaro
Roadster Roadster Roadster sports Roadster Audi TT, Honda S2000, Lotus Elise, Mazda MX-5, Porsche Boxster,
 - Leisure activity vehicle M-segment multi purpose cars Small MPV MPV Renault Kangoo, Peugeot Partner, Ford Tourneo Connect, Škoda Roomster
 - Mini MPV Renault Modus, Citroen C3 Picasso, Opel Meriva, Honda Fit
Compact minivan Compact MPV, Midi MPV Renault Scenic, Citroën C4 Picasso, Opel Zafira, Ford C-Max, Volkswagen Touran
Minivan Large MPV Large MPV Renault Espace, Peugeot 807, Chrysler Town and Country, Ford Galaxy,
Mini SUV Mini 4x4 J-segment sport utility cars (including off-road vehicles) Small Off-Road 4x4 Off-roader Daihatsu Terios, Mitsubishi Pajero iO, Suzuki Jimny, Jeep Wrangler
Compact SUV Compact 4x4 Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV4, Chevy Equinox, Jeep Liberty
 - Coupé SUV  - Isuzu VehiCROSS, BMW X6
Mid-size SUV Large 4x4 Large Off-Road 4x4 Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Volkswagen Touareg, Chevrolet Tahoe
Full-size SUV Cadillac Escalade ESV, Chevrolet Suburban, Range Rover, Toyota Land Cruiser
Mini pickup truck Pick-up  - Pick-up Pickup Chevrolet Montana, Fiat Strada, Volkswagen Saveiro
Mid-size pickup truck Chevrolet Colorado, Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton/L200, Nissan Navara
Full-size pickup truck Dodge Ram, Ford F-150, GMC Sierra, Nissan Titan, Toyota Tundra
Full-size Heavy Duty pickup truck Chevrolet Silverado, Ford Super Duty, Ram Heavy Duty

EuroNCAP applies a standard safety test to all new cars, the results are listed in separate categories to allow prospective vehicle purchasers to compare models of a similar size and shape:

Asia

China

Vehicle size categories for passenger vehicles for the China NCAP program as defined by the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC) may appear similar to the European system, but are closer to the Japanese in application.

  • Small cars, sometimes referred to as the A0-segment, are vehicles including MPVs of less than 4 m in length (roughly corresponding to the European A- and B-segments, and the US EPA's mini- and subcompact classes).
  • Category A (A-segment) vehicles are 2-box vehicles (hatchbacks, MPVs or wagons) of between 4 and 4.5 meters in length, or three-box vehicles (i.e. sedans with a trunk) with engines of less than 1600 cc.
  • Category B (B-segment) vehicles are longer than 4.5 m in length with engines of over 1600 cc.
  • Multi-Purpose Vehicles, or MPVs: those with more than two rows of seats.
  • Sport Utility vehicles or SUVs.

Japan

Sections of this article are translated from Japanese Wikipedia.

Vehicle size classes in Japan are rather simple compared to other regions. There are just three different classes defined by regulations. The law doesn't have revised classifications for roadsters, minivans, station wagons, SUVs, MPVs, or Crossovers. These standards of classification are enforced on all vehicles within the juristiction of Japan, and no special consideration is made for the vehicles origination of manufacture.

  • Keijidosha (light cars): Buyers of Kei cars enjoy a number of tax, registration and other benefits to encourage the purchase of these tiny vehicles (among road vehicles requiring a license only). Regulations have been updated a number of times over the years to allow larger, more powerful cars to be developed and maintain demand as buyers become more affluent. The current regulations state that a kei car is a vehicle less than 3.4 m (11.2 ft) long, 1.48 m (4.9 ft) wide, 2 m (6.6 ft) high and with an engine under 660 cc (40 cu in). Extra small microcars are available with an engine size no larger than 49 cc (3.0 cu in), identified with a light blue license plate and blue text.
  • Compact size vehicles, commonly called "5 number" vehicles in reference to their license-plate prefix. Historically subject to different design rules than the larger "passenger size" designation, this class is defined as limited to vehicles less than 4.7 m (15.4 ft) long, 1.7 m (5.6 ft) wide, 2 m (6.6 ft) high and with engines at or under 2,000 cc (120 cu in). Vans, trucks and station wagons (considered commercial vehicles in Japan) in the compact size class receive a "4 number" license prefix. Since the 1980s an increasing number of Japanese vehicles have grown beyond the confines of the compact size class as most automakers now design vehicles primarily for export, and most compact and even subcompact cars well under 4.7 m in length are now too wide, or have engines too large.
  • Passenger size vehicles, commonly called "3 number" in reference to their license-plate prefix (trucks and buses over 2000 cc have license plates numbers beginning with 1 and 2 respectively), are those more than 4.7 m (15.4 ft) long, 1.7 m (5.6 ft) wide, 2 m (6.6 ft) high or with engines larger than 2,000 cc (120 cu in). This regulation also mandates that all passenger vehicles can not exceed 5 m (16.4 ft) length or 1.8 m (5.9 ft) width. The tax paid on the size of vehicles in this class is ¥39,500 yen per year for private use and ¥9,500 yen per year for business use (taxi). While in the past vehicles such as the first generation Honda Legend, and the Mitsubishi Starion were produced in both "compact size" (just under 4.7 m long and 1.7 m wide) for the domestic market, and longer and/or wider "passenger size" versions, primarily for export markets, it is now only passenger and commercial vans which are produced with versions for both regulatory classes.

Motorcycles also have classification definitions based on engine size:

  • Class I Moped - engine size must be at or less than 50cc, identified by blue text and white extra small license plate.
  • Class II Moped (B) - engine size is between 50cc - 90cc, identified by blue text and yellow extra small license plate.
  • Class II Moped (MIG) - engine size is between 90cc - 125cc, identified by blue text and pink extra small license plate (color of plate can vary according to regional requirements)
  • Motorcycle Light - engine size is between 125cc - 250cc, identified by green text and white small license plate.
  • Motorcycle Medium - engine size is between 250cc - 400cc, identified by green outline and green text with white small license plate.
  • Motorcycle Large - engine size is over 400cc, identified by green outline and green text with white small license plate.

All vehicles with an engine displacement over 250cc are required to undergo an inspection (called "Shaken" in Japan). The tax charged for the size and engine displacement of the vehicle is paid when the inspection is successful. This is separate from the road tax paid yearly.

See also

References

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