Front-wheel drive

Front-Wheel Drive

Front-wheel drive

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Front-wheel drive (FWD) is a form of engine/transmission layout used in motor vehicles, where the engine drives the front wheels only. Most modern front-wheel drive vehicles feature a transverse engine, rather than the conventional longitudinal engine arrangement generally found in rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles.

Front-wheel drive arrangements

Most FWD layouts are front-engined. Historically they fall into three categories:


Prior to 1900

Experiments with front-wheel drive cars date to the early days of the automobile. According to various sources, sometime between 1895 and 1898 Gräf & Stift built a voiturette with a one-cylinder De Dion-Bouton engine fitted in the front of the vehicle, powering the front axle. It was thus arguably the world's first front-wheel drive automobile, but it never saw mass production, with only one copy ever made. In 1898, Latil, in France, devised a front-wheel drive system for motorising horse-drawn carts.


J. Walter Christie of the United States patented a design for a front-wheel drive car, the first prototype of which he built in 1904. He promoted and demonstrated the vehicle by racing at various speedways in the United States, and even competed in the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup and the French Grand Prix. In...
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