A vehicle (from Latin: vehiculum) is a machine that transports people or cargo. Vehicles include wagons, bicycles, motor vehicles (motorcycles, cars, trucks, buses), railed vehicles (trains, trams), watercraft (ships, boats), amphibious vehicles (screw-propelled vehicle, hovercraft), aircraft (airplanes, helicopters) and spacecraft.
Land vehicles are classified broadly by what is used to apply steering and drive forces against the ground: wheeled, tracked, railed or skied. ISO 3833-1977 is the standard, also internationally used in legislation, for road vehicles types, terms and definitions.
There are over 1 billion bicycles in use worldwide. In 2002 there were an estimated 590 million cars and 205 million motorcycles in service in the world. At least 500 million Chinese Flying Pigeon bicycles have been made, more than any other single model of vehicle. The most-produced model of motor vehicle is the Honda Super Cub motorcycle, having passed 60 million units in 2008. The most-produced car model is the Toyota Corolla, with at least 35 million made by 2010. The most common fixed-wing airplane is the Cessna 172, with about 44,000 having been made as of 2017. The Soviet Mil Mi-8, at 17,000, is the most-produced helicopter. The top commercial jet airliner is the Boeing 737, at about 10,000 in 2018.
It is essential that a vehicle have a source of energy to drive it. Energy can be extracted from external sources, as in the cases of a sailboat, a solar-powered car, or an electric streetcar that uses overhead lines. Energy can also be stored, provided it can be converted on demand and the storing medium's energy density and power density are sufficient to meet the vehicle's needs.
Another common medium for storing energy is batteries, which have the advantages of being responsive, useful in a wide range of power levels, environmentally friendly, efficient, simple to install, and easy to maintain. Batteries also facilitate the use of electric motors, which have their own advantages. On the other hand, batteries have low energy densities, short service life, poor performance at extreme temperatures, long charging times, and difficulties with disposal (although they can usually be recycled). Like fuel, batteries store chemical energy and can cause burns and poisoning in event of an accident. Batteries also lose effectiveness with time. The issue of charge time can be resolved by swapping discharged batteries with charged ones; however, this incurs additional hardware costs and may be impractical for larger batteries. Moreover, there must be standard batteries for battery swapping to work at a gas station. Fuel cells are similar to batteries in that they convert from chemical to electrical energy, but have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Most motor vehicles have internal combustion engines. They are fairly cheap, easy to maintain, reliable, safe and small. Since these engines burn fuel, they have long ranges but pollute the environment. A related engine is the external combustion engine. An example of this is the steam engine. Aside from fuel, steam engines also need water, making them impractical for some purposes. Steam engines also need time to warm up, whereas IC engines can usually run right after being started, although this may not be recommended in cold conditions. Steam engines burning coal release sulfur into the air, causing harmful acid rain.