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Powertrain components of a 2010 Subaru Legacy passenger car

In a motor vehicle, the powertrain consists of the source of propulsion (e.g. the engine or electric motor) and the drivetrain system which transfers this energy into forward movement of the vehicle.[1]


The powertrain consists of the power source (e.g. the engine) and all of the components that convert the engine's power into movement of the vehicle (e.g. the transmission, driveshafts, differential and axles);[2][3] whereas the drivetrain does not include the power source and consists of the transmission, driveshafts, differential and axles.[4][5]

Power sources[edit]

Most passenger cars and commercial vehicles are powered by either an internal combustion engine, electric motor(s) or a combination of the two.

The most common types of internal combustion engines are:

Most purely electric vehicles use batteries for energy storage (although several prototypes have used fuel cells instead) and are referred to as battery electric vehicles.

Vehicles with both internal combustion engines and electric motors are called hybrid vehicles. If a hybrid vehicle includes a charging socket, it is considered to be a plug-in hybrid, while vehicles that do not include a charging socket (therefore relying on the engine or regenerative braking to charge the batteries) are considered to be mild hybrids.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Drivetrain Quiz". www.carcare.org. Archived from the original on 16 June 2010.
  2. ^ "What Does a Powertrain Warranty Cover?". www.carchex.com. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  3. ^ "What is a Powertrain or Drivetrain?". www.whichcar.com.au. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  4. ^ "What is a Car Powertrain?". www.itstillruns.com. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  5. ^ "What Does a Powertrain Warranty Cover? What is a Powertrain?". www.autosimple.com. Retrieved 30 November 2020.