What Is 3-Wheel Drive?

by Shannon Keen
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scooter image by Vonora from Fotolia.com

Three-wheel drive is a transmission system in a motor vehicle that supplies power to only three wheels. It is used only in three-wheeled vehicles, such as motor scooters. Four-wheeled vehicles, such as cars, use only two- or four-wheel drive.


Three-wheel drive is a type of transmission system. A transmission system transfers power from the engine of a motor vehicle to the wheels. The number of wheels receiving power determines the level of traction a vehicle can generate.

Three-Wheel Drive

Three-wheel drive is never used in vehicles with more than three wheels. Cars, trucks and similar four-wheeled vehicles either supply power to the front wheels, the back wheels or all four at once. In a three-wheeled vehicle, power is supplied to all three wheels -- thus, "three-wheel" drive.


In certain hybrid vehicles, such as Peugeot's hybrid three-wheel scooter, all three wheels are not powered by a single engine. In Peugeot's scooter, the two front wheels are powered by individual electric motors. The back wheel is powered by a separate, aspirating engine.

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