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North American Kenworth truck
A truck (American English) or lorry (British English) is a motor vehicle - more specifically a commercial vehicle commonly used for transporting goods and materials. Some light trucks/lorries are similar in size to a passenger automobile. Commercial transportation trucks/lorries or fire trucks can be large, and can also serve as a platform for specialized equipment.

The word


The word "truck" possibly derives from the Greek "trochos" (τροχός = wheel). In North America, certain kinds of big wheels were called trucks. When the gasoline engine driven trucks came into fashion, these were called "motor trucks".

International variance

In the United Statesmarker and Canadamarker "truck" is usually reserved for commercial vehicles larger than normal cars, and for pickup and other vehicles having an open load bed.

In the United Kingdommarker and Irelandmarker, lorry is used instead of truck, but only used for the medium and heavy types (see below); i.e. a van, pickup or an off-road four-wheel drive vehicle such as a Jeep may rarely be called a truck in the United States, but would never be regarded as a lorry in the UK or Ireland. The same applies to the initials HGV (for Heavy Goods Vehicle), which is basically synonymous with lorry. What the Americans call a station wagon is called an estate car in the UK.

In U.S. English, the word "truck" is used in the names of particular types of truck, such as a "fire truck" or "tanker truck". Note that in British English these would be a "fire engine" and "tanker" or "petrol tanker" respectively.

"Lorry" is also used in Hong Kongmarker.

The word "lorry" is also used in Cambodiamarker, although there it can refer to a train.

In Australia and New Zealand, a pickup truck (a relatively small, usually car- or van-derived vehicle, with an open back body) is usually called a ute (short for "utility"), and the word "truck" or "lorry" is mostly reserved for larger vehicles. The small utility truck was invented in Australia in the 1930s.

Other languages have loanwords based on these terms, such as the Malay language and the Spanish language in northern Mexicomarker.

A commonly understood term for truck across many European countries is camion. Camion is also used in Quebecmarker to identify trucks in French. Additionally, from the German language the initials "PKW" (personenkraftwagen or passenger carrying vehicle) for a car/van or small truck and "LKW" (lastkraftwagen or cargo/load/freight carrying vehicle) for larger trucks are understood.

Nordic languages use a term similar to the German one: Lastbil (Danish and Swedish), Lastebil (Norwegian) and Vörubíll (Icelandic), which all roughly translates to "load car". It should be noted that the loanword "truck" in these languages normally refers to a forklift.

In Italymarker TIR is widely used, albeit unofficially, to mean "long trucks", with reference to the TIR Treaty. Smaller trucks are referred to as camion (unofficially) or autocarri (official name: literally "automobile-wagon").


Inside a Mack truck
In the United Statesmarker, a commercial driver's license is required to drive any type of commercial vehicle weighing 26,001 lbs (11,800 kg) or more.

The United Kingdommarker and the rest of Europe now have common, yet complex rules (see European driving licence). As an overview, to drive a vehicle weighing more than for commercial purposes requires a specialist licence (the type varies depending on the use of the vehicle and number of seats). For licences first acquired after 1997, that weight was reduced to , not including trailers.

In Australia, a truck driving license is required for any motor vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) exceeding . The motor vehicles classes are further expanded as:

LRLight rigid: a rigid vehicle with a GVM of more than but not more than . Any towed trailer must not weigh more than GVM.

MRMedium rigid: a rigid vehicle with 2 axles and a GVM of more than . Any towed trailer must not weigh more than GVM. Also includes vehicles in class 'LR'.

HRHeavy Rigid: a rigid vehicle with 3 or more axles and a GVM of more than ). Any towed trailer must not weigh more than ) GVM. Also includes articulated buses and vehicles in class 'MR'.

HCHeavy Combination, a typical prime mover plus semi trailer combination.

MC Multi Combination e.g. B Doubles/Road trains.

There is also a heavy vehicle transmission condition for a licence class HR, HC or MC test passed in a vehicle fitted with an automatic or synchromesh transmission, a driver’s licence will be restricted to vehicles of that class fitted with a synchromesh or automatic transmission . To have the condition removed, a person needs to pass a practical driving test in a vehicle with non synchromesh transmission (constant mesh or crash box).

In 2006, the U.S. trucking industry employed 1.8 million drivers of heavy trucks. There are around 5 million truck drivers in India.

Anatomy of a truck

A Russian truck from the early 1920s
Almost all trucks share a common construction: they are made of a chassis, a cab, an area for placing cargo or equipment, axles, suspension and roadwheels, an engine and a drivetrain. Pneumatic, hydraulic, water, and electrical systems may also be identified. Many also tow one or more trailers or semi-trailers.


The cab is an enclosed space where the driver is seated. A sleeper is a compartment attached to the cab where the driver can rest while not driving, sometimes seen in semi-trailer trucks.

There are a few possible cab configurations:
  • Cab over engine (COE) or flat nose; where the driver is seated above the front axle and the engine. This design is almost ubiquitous in Europe, where overall truck lengths are strictly regulated, but also widely used in the rest of the world as well. They were common in the United Statesmarker, but lost prominence when permitted length was extended in the early 1980s. To access the engine, the whole cab tilts forward, earning this design the name of tilt-cab. This type of cab is especially suited to the delivery conditions in Europe where many roads follow the layout of much more ancient path, and trackways which require the additional turning capability of the cab over engine type. The COE design was invented by Viktor Schreckengost.
  • Conventional cabs are the most common in North America, and are known in the UK as American cabs. The driver is seated behind the engine, as in most passenger cars or pickup trucks. Conventionals are further divided into large car and aerodynamic designs. A "large car" or "long nose" is a conventional truck with a long (6 to 8 foot (1.8 to 2.4 m) or more) hood. With their very square shapes, these trucks experience a lot of wind resistance and typically consume more fuel. They also provide somewhat poorer visibility than their aerodynamic or COE counterparts. By contrast, Aerodynamic cabs are very streamlined, with a sloped hood and other features to lower drag. Most owner-operators prefer the square-hooded conventionals.
  • Cab beside engine designs also exist, but are rather rare and are mainly used inside shipping yards, or other specialist uses such as aircraft baggage loading.


Cummins ISB 6.7L medium duty truck diesel engine
The oldest truck was built in 1896 by Gottlieb Daimler. Most small trucks such as sport utility vehicles (SUVs) or pickup, and even light medium-duty trucks in North America and Russiamarker will use petrol engines (gasoline engines), but many diesel engined models are now being produced. Most heavier trucks use four stroke diesel engine with a turbocharger and intercooler. Huge off-highway trucks use locomotive-type engines such as a V12 Detroit Diesel two stroke engine. Diesel engines are becoming the engine of choice for trucks ranging from class 3 to 8 GVWs.

North American manufactured highway trucks almost always use an engine built by a third party, such as CAT, Cummins, or Detroit Diesel. The only exceptions to this are Volvo and its subsidiary Mack Trucks, which are available with their own engines. Freightliner Trucks, Sterling Trucks and Western Star, subsidiaries of Daimler AG, are available with Mercedes-Benz and Detroit Diesel engines. Trucks and buses built by Navistar International usually also contain International engines. The Swedish manufacturer Scania claims they stay away from the U.S. market because of this third party tradition.

In the European Union, all new lorry engines must comply with Euro 5 emission regulations.


A truck rear suspension and drive axles overview
Eaton Roadranger 18 speed "crash box" with automated gearshift
Small trucks use the same type of transmissions as almost all cars, having either an automatic transmission or a manual transmission with synchromesh (synchronizers). Bigger trucks often use manual transmissions without synchronisers, saving bulk and weight, although synchromesh transmissions are used in larger trucks as well. Transmissions without synchronizers, known as "crash boxes", require double-clutching for each shift, (which can lead to repetitive motion injuries), or a technique known colloquially as "floating", a method of changing gears which doesn't use the clutch, except for starts and stops, due to the physical effort of double clutching, especially with non power assisted clutches, faster shifts, and less clutch wear.

Double-clutching allows the driver to control the engine and transmission revolutions to synchronize, so that a smooth shift can be made, e.g., when upshifting, the accelerator pedal is released and the clutch pedal is depressed while the gear lever is moved into neutral, the clutch pedal is then released and quickly pushed down again while the gear lever is moved to the next higher gear. Finally, the clutch pedal is released and the accelerator pedal pushed down to obtain required engine speed. Although this is a relatively fast movement, perhaps a second or so while transmission is in neutral, it allows the engine speed to drop and synchronize engine and transmission revolutions relative to the road speed. Downshifting is performed in a similar fashion, except the engine speed is now required to increase (while transmission is in neutral) just the right amount in order to achieve the synchronization for a smooth, non-collision gear change. Skip changing is also widely used; in principle operation is the same as double-clutching, but it requires neutral be held slightly longer than a single gear change.

Common North American setups include 9, 10, 13, 15, and 18 speeds. Automatic and semi-automatic transmissions for heavy trucks are becoming more and more common, due to advances both in transmission and engine power. In Europe 8, 10, 12 and 16 gears are common on larger trucks with manual transmission, while automatic or semi-automatic transmissions would have anything from 5 to 12 gears. Almost all heavy truck transmissions are of the "range and split" (double H shift pattern) type, where range change and so-called half gears or splits are air operated and always preselected before the main gear selection.

More new trucks in Europe are being sold with automatic or semi-automatic transmissions. This may be due the fuel consumption can be lowered and truck durability improved. The primary reason perhaps is the fact that such transmissions give a driver more time to concentrate on the road and traffic conditions.


A truck frame consists of two parallel boxed (tubular) or C-shaped rails, or beams, held together by crossmembers. These frames are referred to as ladder frames due to their resemblance to a ladder if tipped on end. The rails consist of a tall vertical section (two if boxed) and two shorter horizontal flanges. The height of the vertical section provides opposition to vertical flex when weight is applied to the top of the frame (beam resistance). Though typically flat the whole length on heavy duty trucks, the rails may sometimes be tapered or arched for clearance around the engine or over the axles. The holes in rails are used either for mounting vehicle components and running wires and hoses, or measuring and adjusting the orientation of the rails at the factory or repair shop.

Though they may be welded, crossmembers are most often attached to frame rails by bolts or rivets. Crossmembers may be boxed or stamped into a c-shape, but are most commonly boxed on modern vehicles, particularly heavy trucks.

The frame is almost always made of steel, but can be made (whole or in part) of aluminium for a lighter weight. A tow bar may be found attached at one or both ends, but heavy trucks almost always make use of a fifth wheel hitch.

Environmental effects

Trucks contribute to air, noise, and water pollution similarly to automobiles. Trucks may emit lower air pollution emissions than cars per pound of vehicle mass, although the absolute level per vehicle mile traveled is higher, and diesel particulate matter is especially problematic for health. With respect to noise pollution, trucks emit considerably higher sound levels at all speeds compared to typical car; this contrast is particularly strong with heavy-duty trucks. There are several aspects of truck operations that contribute to the overall sound that is emitted. Continuous sounds are those from tires rolling on the roadway, and the constant hum of their diesel engines at highway speeds. Less frequent noises, but perhaps more noticeable, are things like the repeated sharp-pitched whistle of a turbocharger on acceleration, or the abrupt blare of an exhaust brake retarder when traversing a downgrade. There has been noise regulation put in place to help control where and when the use of engine braking retarders are allowed.

Concerns have been raised about the effect of trucking on the environment, particularly as part of the debate on global warming. In the period from 1990 to 2003, carbon dioxide emissions from transportation sources increased by 20%, despite improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency.

In 2005, transportation accounted for 27% of U.S. greenhouse gas emission, increasing faster than any other sector.

Between 1985 and 2004, in the U.S., energy consumption in freight transportation grew nearly 53%,while the number of ton-miles carried increased only 43%."Modal shifts account for a nearly a 23% increase in energy consumption over this period. Much of this shift is due to a greater fraction of freight ton-miles being carried via truck and air, as compared to water, rail, and pipelines."

According to a 1995 U.S. Government estimate, the energy cost of carrying one ton of freight a distance of one kilometer averages 337 kJ for water, 221 kJ for rail, 2,000 kJ for trucks, and nearly 13,000 kJ for air transport. Many environmental organizations favor laws and incentives to encourage the switch from road to rail, especially in Europe.

The European Parliament is moving to ensure that charges on heavy-goods vehicles should be based in part on the air and noise pollution they produce and the congestion they cause, according to legislation approved by the Transport Committee. The Eurovignette scheme has been proposed, whereby new charges would be potentially levied against things such as noise and air pollution and also weight related damages from the lorries themselves.

Sales and sales issues

Truck market worldwide


Isuzu Truck
Daimler Truck
SISU truck
Tata truck
UD Nissan truck
Hino Motors truck
MAN truck

Largest truck manufacturers in the world as of 2007, over 16 tons GVW in 2005.
Pos. Make Units
1 Isuzu 478,535
2 Daimler AG (Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner Trucks, Sterling Trucks, Unimog, Western Star, Fuso) 438,954
3 Volvo Group (Volvo, Mack, Renault, UD Nissan Diesel) 210,446
4 Hyundai Group (Hyundai) 159,237
5 Tata Group (Tata Motors, Daewoo Commercial Vehicle) 157,781
6 UD Nissan Diesel 131,429
7 Hino Motorsmarker (Toyota Group) 129,107
8 Fiat Groupmarker (Iveco, Magirus, Astra, Seddon Atkinson, Yuejin) 127,542
9 PACCAR (DAF Trucks, Kenworth, Peterbilt, Leyland Trucks) 126,960
10 MAN 92,485


Operations issues

Commercial insurance

Primary liability Insurance coverage protects the truck from damage or injuries to other people as a result of a truck accident. This truck insurance coverage is mandated by U.S. state and federal agencies, and proof of coverage is required to be sent to them. Insurance coverage limits range from $35,000 to $1,000,000. Pricing is dependent on region, driving records, and history of the trucking operation.

Motor truck cargo insurance protects the transporter for his responsibility in the event of damaged or lost freight. The policy is purchased with a maximum load limit per vehicle. Cargo insurance coverage limits can range from $10,000 to $100,000 or more. Pricing for this insurance is mainly dependent on the type of cargo being hauled.

Truck shows

In the UK, three truck shows are popular - Shropshire Truck Show in Oswestry Showground during May, The UK Truck Show held in June at Santa Pod Raceway, and FIA European Drag Racing Championships from the home of European Drag-Racing. The UK Truck Show features drag-racing with 6-ton trucks from the British Truck Racing Association, plus other diesel-powered entertainment.

Truck shows provide operators with an opportunity to win awards for their trucks.

See also


  1. Radio Australia - Innovations - The First Ute
  2. Australian driving license classifications
  3. License class information
  4. " Indian Truckers Strike to Protest Against Fuel Price Hike". Deutsche Welle. July 2, 2008.
  5. Viktor Schreckengost; Designed Bicycles, Dinnerware and More -
  6. MEPs push for green tolls Last retrieved 11-02-09
  7. European Parliament discuss Eurovignette scheme Last retrieved 10-02-09
  8. World ranking 2007.xls

External links

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