Truck classifications are typically based upon the maximum loaded weight of the truck (typically using the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and sometimes also the gross trailer weight rating (GTWR)), and can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
In the United States, commercial truck classification is determined based on the vehicle's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). The classes range from 1–8. Trucks are also classified more broadly by the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), which groups classes 1–3 as light duty, 4–6 as medium duty, and 7–8 as heavy duty. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has a separate system of emissions classifications for trucks. The United States Census Bureau also assigned classifications in its now-discontinued Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey (VIUS) (formerly Truck Inventory and Use Survey (TIUS)).
The Class 2 truck gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) ranges from 6001–10000 lb (2722–4536 kg). Examples of vehicles in this class include the Dodge Ram 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, and the F-150. Class 2 is subdivided into Class 2a and Class 2b, with class 2a being 6001–8500 lb (2722–3856 kg), and class 2b being 8501–10000 lb (3856–4536 kg). Examples of vehicles in Class 2b include the Dodge Ram 2500, Chevrolet Silverado 2500, and the Ford F-250. SUVs in Class 2b include the Ford Excursion and the Chevrolet Suburban 2500. Class 2a is commonly referred to as a light duty truck, with class 2b being the lowest heavy-duty class, also called the light heavy-duty class.
The Class 3 truck gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) ranges from 10001–14000 lb (4536–6350 kg). Examples of vehicles in this class include the Dodge Ram 3500, Ford E-350, Ford F-350, and the GMC Sierra 3500. The Hummer H1 is another example of a single rear axle Class 3 truck, with a GVWR of 10300 lb (4672 kg).
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When light-duty trucks were first produced in the United States, they were rated by their payload capacity in tons (e.g., ½-, ¾- and 1-ton). Over time, payload capacities for most domestic pickup trucks have increased while the ton titles have stayed the same. The now-imprecise ton rating is presently used to compare standard sizes, rather than actual capacities.
This has led to categorizing trucks similarly, even if their payload is different. Therefore, the Dodge Dakota, Ford Ranger, Honda Ridgeline, Chevrolet S-10, and GMC S-15 are called quarter-tons (¼-ton). The Ford F-150, Chevrolet C10/K10, Chevrolet/GMC 1500, and Dodge 1500 are half-tons (½-ton). The Ford F-250, Chevrolet C20/K20, Chevrolet/GMC 2500, and Dodge 2500 are three-quarter-tons (¾-ton). Chevrolet/GMC's ¾-ton suspension systems were further divided into light and heavy-duty, differentiated by 5-lug and 6 or 8-lug wheel hubs depending on year, respectively. The Ford F-350, Chevrolet C30/K30, Chevrolet/GMC 3500, and Dodge 3500 are one tons (1-ton).
Similar schemes exist for vans and SUVs (e.g. a 1-ton Dodge Van or a ½-ton GMC Suburban), medium duty trucks (e.g. the Ford 1½-ton F-450) and some military vehicles, like the ubiquitous deuce-and-a-half.
The Class 4 truck gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) ranges from 14001–16000 lb (6351–7257 kg). Examples of vehicles in this class include the Ford E-450, Ford F-450, Dodge Ram 4500, and the GMC 4500.
The Class 5 truck gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) ranges from 16001–19500 lb (7258–8845 kg). Examples of trucks in this class include the International TerraStar, GMC 5500. Dodge Ram 5500, and the Ford F-550
The Class 6 truck gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) ranges from 19501–26000 lb (8846–11793 kg). Examples of trucks in this class include the International Durastar, Chevrolet Kodiak/GMC TopKick C6500 and the Ford F-650.
Vehicles in Class 7 and above require a Class-B commercial driver's license (CDL) to operate in the United States. These include GMC C7500 and the Ford F-750. Their GVWR ranges from 26001–33000 lb (11794–14969 kg).
The Class 8 truck gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is a vehicle with a GVWR exceeding 33000 lb (14969 kg). These include tractor trailer tractors as well as single-unit dump trucks of a GVWR over 33,000 lb; such trucks typically have 3 or more axles. The typical 5-axle tractor-trailer combination, also called a "semi" or "18-wheeler", is a Class 8 vehicle. Standard trailers vary in length from 8' containers to 57' van trailers, with the most common length being the 53' trailer. Specialized trailers for oversized loads can be considerably longer. Commercial operation of a Class 8 vehicle in the United States requires either a Class-B CDL for non-combination vehicles, or a Class-A CDL for combination vehicles (tractor-trailers).
Vehicle classifications vary among provinces in Canada, due to "differences in size and weight regulations, economic activity, physical environment, and other issues".:3 While several provinces use their own classification schemes for traffic monitoring, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan have adopted the 13-class system from the United States' Federal Highway Administration—sometimes with modifications, or in Ontario's case, for limited purposes.:3–4[needs update] British Columbia and Ontario also distinguish between short- and long-combination trucks.:3–4[needs update] In accident reporting, eight jurisdictions subdivide trucks by GVWR into light and heavy classes at approximately 4500 kg 9921 lb.:6
In the European scheme the licenses are (among others) B for cars, C for lorries, D for buses, and are limited by the GVWR.
Divides into two types:
- appending a number to the class denotes the "light" versions of said class.
- appending the letter E allows for larger trailers (GTWR).
- Class B permits the use of vehicles with GVWRs of not more than 3500 kg and a trailer with GTWRs not exceeding 750 kg, or a trailer above said limit, if the gross weight of car and trailer combined does not exceed 3500 kg (or 4250 kg after a theoretical and practical course of 7 hours). Such vehicles are also commonly known as light commercial vehicles (LCVs), and include the Ford Transit, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Fiat Ducato.
- Class BE allows for trailers up to 3500 kg GTWR while driving a class B vehicle.
- Class C1 raises the GVWR limit to 7500 kg and a trailer of GTWR not exceeding 750 kg.
- Class C removes the GVWR limit, but the GTWR limit for the trailer of 750 kg stays.
- Class C1E allows for a class B or C1 vehicle and a trailer of more than 750 kg GTWR, if the combined gross weight does not exceed 12000 kg.
- Class CE removes the trailers GTWR limit while driving a Class C vehicle.
List of truck types
Class 8 Kenworth W900 tractor with spread-axle 48' refrigerated trailer.
- Car classification
- Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE)
- Commercial vehicle
- Curb weight
- Driver's license
- Gross weight:
- Large goods vehicle
- List of truck types
- Tow hitch
- Vehicle category
- Vehicle Weight Classes & Categories from the United States Department of Energy
- NTEA.com – Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GAWR) by Class (archived)
- TMIP|Clearinghouse|Accounting for Commercial Vehicles in Urban Transportation Models Archived November 1, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
- FHWA Vehicle Types from the United States Department of Transportation
- Truck Classification, Changingears.com, 2009-03-28, retrieved 2012-04-09
- Vehicle Weight Classifications from the United States Environmental Protection Agency
- "Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey – Discontinued". Census.gov. 2015-06-30. Retrieved 2015-08-17.
- "2005 Dodge Dakota Specifications, Fuel Economy & Overview". Truck Trend. 2007-02-26. Retrieved 2012-04-09.
- "Class 3-4-5 Truck Model Roundup". Nextexitlogistics.com. 2014-10-22. Retrieved 2015-08-17.
- Save to MyGarage (2005-02-10), 2005 Chicago Auto Show, Autobytel.com, retrieved 2012-04-09
- GMC TopKick 4500[dead link]
- Rik Hinton, Idaho Transportation Department (2011-12-22), Idaho Commercial Driver's License Program, Itd.idaho.gov, retrieved 2012-04-09
- "International Class 7 Crew Cab Pickup". Truck Trend. 2007-02-26. Retrieved 2012-04-09.
- Clayton, Alan; Montufar, Jeannette; Middleton, Dan; McCauley, Bill (August 27–31, 2000), "Feasibility of a New Vehicle Classification System for Canada" (PDF), North American Travel Monitoring Exhibition and Conference (NATMEC) 2000, archived from the original (PDF) on November 1, 2004, retrieved August 9, 2013,
Furthermore, the fleet characteristics vary significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction across the country because of differences in size and weight regulations, economic activity, physical environment, and other issues. This has led to a wide variety of vehicle classification systems used by highway agencies and municipal authorities in their traffic monitoring programs.