Different truck types: Understanding the differences and benefits

Different truck types: Understanding the differences and benefits

There are many different trucks out there these days, and so when it comes to investing in any for
your business, it is essential that you understand their differences. Each one will serve a different
purpose and have its own unique benefits, making it important that you know which one will fit in
with your needs.

In this article, FleetEx take a look at the different truck types that are now available to help you
understand which one is the right one for you.

Rigid trucks

Most trucks are made up of a tractor and a trailer, and in the case of a rigid truck, they are fixed
securely together. These are frequently used across a wide range of industries, but it will depend on
the type of cargo that you are intending to transport, as the design of the truck means that goods
can only be accessed through the rear of the vehicle.

Some will have an electronic tail lift that can assist with the process of loading and unloading, whilst
others may provide sliding access which can be preferable when it comes to collecting from
locations with limited space, such as warehouses.

The fixed nature of this type of truck can mean that the driving experience is more in line with the
feel of driving a car as it will not bend along its length. This also means that it will have a large
turning circle and manoeuvres can require three-point turns in order to turn the vehicle around.

This model of truck can usually accommodate loads ranging from 25 to 30 tonnes. Typically, a rigid
truck will have two axles, but there are three and four axle versions available.

Articulated trucks

In contrast to a rigid truck, an articulated lorry comes in two parts. The trailer can be detached from
the main truck, and so this can make them very popular with hauliers who are required to cross the
sea as the trailer can be loaded onto a ferry and collected by a different truck on the other side. The
length and weight of this type of vehicle makes it ideal for long-distance journeys, although the
maximum length of an articulated truck is 16.5m.

An articulated truck can transport a wide range of commodities, and their loads can go up to as
much as 44 tonnes. As it has a pivot joint between the cab and the trailer, it can turn more sharply
than its rigid counterparts.


A Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) is any truck weighing in excess of 7.5 tonnes, and therefore requires a
specialist driving licence in order to operate it. This means that a C1, C1+E, C or C+E licence will be
required. The Department for Transport has defined the three main types of HGVs as smaller 2 axle
trucks with a gross weight of between 3.5 tonnes and 7.5 tonnes, bigger 2 axle trucks with a
maximum gross weight of between 7.5 tonnes and 18 tonnes, and multi axle trucks with three, four,
five or even six axles which can be either rigid or articulated and range in weight from 25 tonnes to
44 tonnes.

In UK and European law, a Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) and an HGV are the same thing, and the
terminology was changed to avoid any confusion with Light Goods Vehicles, which weigh up to 3.5
tonnes and only require a standard UK driving licence.


A Special Types General Order (STGO) is something which is applied to more unusual trucks such as
mobile cranes, abnormal indivisible loads (AIL), engineering plan and road recovery vehicles. An
STGIO is required in order for these trucks to be allowed to use UK roads.

Choosing the right truck

When you choose the truck that you want, you must first consider how you intend to use it. Look at
the type of goods that you will be transporting and the type of distances that you expect to cover, as
it may be the case that you don’t necessarily need the biggest truck on the market.

Smaller trucks are often better suited to shorter distances if they are capable of carrying the required loads, as the larger versions have been made with long distance journeys in mind and can withstand a lot more before repairs and maintenance become an issue.

The size of your vehicle will also determine the amount of crash protection that it offers, with more
protection being provided by the larger vehicles. Fuel efficiency can also be a factor, as this will be a
big part of your company costs and a more efficient vehicle will lessen its impact on the

Your budget will always be a big factor in choosing a truck, and you should make sure that you
consider day to day running costs and maintenance or repair bills as well as the initial outlay. It is
also important to consider depreciation, as a truck that can hold its value is more likely to be a better
investment for your business.

With the changes in UK law looming, there is likely to be increased pressure to start making the
move away from diesel and instead purchasing a truck powered by electricity. Whilst it is still early
days for this market, it is likely that a lot more electric trucks will be available in the next few years.

It is important to think about the type of goods that you think you will transport, as perishable goods
like fresh and frozen food are going to need refrigerated vehicles, whilst those who will be moving
liquids might need a tanker.

Whatever truck you invest in, it is important to ensure that your drivers have the necessary licence
to drive it, and that any specialist training is undertaken to ensure that everyone on the road is safe
and competent behind the wheel of their new vehicle. Choosing the right truck for your business is
not always easy, so think ahead to how it will be used to help pick the right one.