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A lorry ( truck , truck ), short truck or lorry , in Switzerland also Camion , commonly known vices , is one of the trucks belonging vehicle with which goods are transported. A truck can also be operated with a trailer; this combination is called a truck , the truck in this combination is called a motor vehicle . If the tractor is short and the trailer is placed on it , the combination is called a semitrailer .

Medium truck (14 t)

Vehicles approved for road traffic for the transport of goods under 2.8 t gross vehicle weight as well as special vehicles such as heavy transport vehicles or large mobile cranes are not referred to as trucks.


Constructive classification

The short-nosed vehicle is optically, technically and historically between the classic long-nosed vehicle and the front-wheel drive
Euro semitrailer (refrigerated truck)

A truck in the common sense generally consists of a load-bearing chassis, usually a ladder frame , a suitable drive, a driver's cab ( driver's cab ) and a structure intended to carry the load or load. In addition to these heavy goods vehicles, which can be classified according to their weight in light, medium and heavy trucks, a number of on approval be officially cars - chassis built vehicles classified as trucks, if they are suitable for transporting loads. In the case of certain vans and station wagons , one and the same vehicle model can even count as either a car (such as a minibus ) or a truck (such as a delivery van ), depending on the type of registration and use . The models, which are largely identical to passenger cars, differ in that the funds have been converted accordingly . B. no row of seats or side windows. Other small trucks are, for example, panel vans , high-roof station wagons and small flatbed trucks . Trucks are designed to carry loads themselves and (optionally as an articulated train ) to pull trailers , or they are built as semi- trailers (Germany) or articulated vehicles (Austria). Since they themselves lack the structure intended for the transport of goods, articulated lorries are connected to a semi- trailer (the so-called semi-trailer ) when transporting goods , and together with this they form an articulated truck. This must be distinguished from tractors that are designed to pull conventional trailers. The latter were more important until the 1960s, but are practically no longer to be found in the field of goods transport (apart from showman vehicles and heavy transporters ).

Depending on the position of the engine relative to the driver's cab, a distinction is made between the long-nosed (engine in front of the driver's cab), short-nosed (engine partially moved into the driver's cab) and front control (engine under or behind the driver's cab, e.g. in the rear of the vehicle ( Rear engine ) or under its floor ( underfloor engine )). There were also corner and round hood versions.

Dimensions and weights - legal classification

Trucks are usually after their maximum mass divided their axes (ZGM) and the gross vehicle weight (GVW) and the number and according to their purpose. In Europe there are, depending on the motor vehicle legislation of the individual countries:

  • Small trucks and converted cars up to 3.5 tons (t) .
  • Light trucks up to 7.5 t (abbreviated: truck ; abbreviation is sometimes used for small trucks and converted cars up to 3.5 t)
  • Medium-weight trucks up to 18 t
  • Heavy trucks (abbreviated: SKW ) in Sweden and Denmark up to 60 t; in Germany as trailer or articulated vehicles up to 40 t (in combined transport up to 44 t, whereby a load of 11.5 t per axle must not be exceeded); in Austria solo trucks up to 32 t, with trailers up to 40 t; in Switzerland since January 1, 2005 up to 40 t; in the Netherlands up to 50 t. Trials with larger units, the so-called EuroCombis (long trucks) - often incorrectly called gigaliners in the media , which is only the model name of a body manufacturer - are running in various European countries.
  • See also article: Commercial vehicle / Dimensions and weights

There are also many different legal classifications of trucks. In addition to their weight, they also depend on the type and type of use and have different effects on vehicle insurance , traffic regulations , tolls , vehicle tax and other taxes . For example, many states have a ban on driving on Sundays and public holidays .

As a rule, a distinction is made between local transport or distribution trucks (usually smaller vehicles and mostly with smaller cabs without sleeping berths) on the one hand and heavy long-distance vehicles on the other hand, according to the design and the intended area of ​​use. The actual use of both types is also possible in the other area of ​​application, but not relevant for the formal differentiation. However, for long-distance journeys, the EU has now allowed the driver to spend his rest time not in the hotel, but also in the car, if certain cabin sizes and equipment are available. The customary local driver's cabins without a lounger are no longer permitted for long-distance operations without a hotel connection, according to the Berth Ordinance. The same ordinance also meant that the "volume vehicles" built from 1977 to 1991 and the so-called "topsleepers" (roof sleeping cabins) that existed for them were then prohibited from being used while driving. The sleeping cabin as an alcove structure above a normal, short local traffic cabin was used in order to enable a greater loading length with the same overall vehicle length. From 1991 the real local traffic cabs were put on an equal footing with the large long-haul cabs and only the entire length of the truck or the loading area was stipulated.

In the meantime, so-called Euro semitrailers with a two-axle tractor unit and a three-axle semitrailer have overtaken the classic articulated trains in terms of registration numbers in long-distance transport . The so-called “Euro truck” is defined by the EU in terms of its size, equipment and maximum permissible weight and its operation is permitted in every EU member state, but also in every state associated with the EU , regardless of the place of registration in the EEA. The Euro or EU road train (truck) may be 18.75 m as an articulated train, 16.50 m long as a semitrailer, up to 4.0 m high and 2.55 m wide without the exterior mirrors (refrigerated trains up to 2.60 m m). This EU truck registration regulation must be implemented in the respective national legislation. There are permanent exceptions that differ from EEA or EU member state to EEA or EU member state. In Sweden, for example, the articulated train can have a total length of up to 26.50 m and a total weight of up to 60 tons without changing the other dimensions. Mobile cranes in Germany, on the other hand, can be up to 3 meters wide without changing the other dimensions.

In Switzerland , which is not associated with the EU via the EEA Agreement , the total weight of trucks was limited to 28 t, their height to 4 m and their width without mirrors to 2.55 m. It has only been possible to use trucks with a total weight of 40 tonnes in Switzerland since January 1, 2005. In Switzerland, as in the EU, articulated trucks can be up to 16.5 m long and articulated trucks up to 18.75 m long, as in the EU. However, the length of trucks on back roads is often limited to 12 m. In cross-border traffic, however, heavier vehicles were to be found earlier. In the 1980s, in addition to regular buses, local trucks were often only 2.30 m wide, inexpensive on narrow mountain roads and convenient for cyclists.

driving licence

In order to be allowed to drive a truck, you need a driving license with driving license class B (up to 3.5 t), C1 (up to 7.5 t) or C , depending on the gross vehicle weight in Europe . To drive trailers over 750 kg gross vehicle weight behind you These vehicles also require the corresponding trailer driving license class BE, C1E or CE. With regard to the carriage of trailers behind a class B towing vehicle, however, additional regulations apply if class BE is not available. The maximum permissible weight of the trailer may be greater than 750 kg if the maximum permissible weight of the entire combination does not exceed 3.5 t. The scope of the driving license class B can be extended to 4.25 t of permissible total weight for the combination (the towing vehicle may still have a maximum of 3.5 t of permissible total weight) by participating in driver training. This is indicated in the driver's license by entering the code number 96. In driving license law, only the maximum permissible mass of the vehicle is decisive, which is usually specified in the vehicle documents. The actual mass does not matter. For example, to drive a partially loaded truck with a maximum permissible weight of 12 t and an actual weight of 7 t, the C driving license class is required. C1 is not sufficient in this case.

Driving licenses of classes C1 (E) and C (E) are only valid for a limited period. Since January 1, 1999, class C1 (E) has been granted up to the age of 50 (then for 5 years), class C (E) only for 5 years. Other time limits may apply to driving licenses issued before this date.

Furthermore, for the commercial driving of vehicles for which a driving license of class C1 (E) or C (E) is required, proof of a basic qualification or further training according to the Professional Driver Qualification Act is required. After successfully completing the basic professional driver qualification, the key number 95 is entered in the driver's license. The key number 95 is also valid for five years. Afterwards, a further training measure must be attended in order to be allowed to continue to work in commercial freight transport. This is not necessary for private journeys and there are also exceptions for craft businesses, for example.

Load on roads

Trucks wear the roads significantly more than cars. Various studies assume that a single truck wears down the road as much as approx. 100,000 cars, see the fourth power law . The range of calculations extends from 35,000 times to over 160,000 times the car load. The costs of building and maintaining the roads are by no means covered by the truck tax. In fact, truck traffic only bears around 30% of the costs it causes. In the subordinate road network (i.e. on local roads) the cost recovery is only 18%.

As a result, there is often no fairness of causation in truck operation . The costs of maintaining the roads must be borne by the general public. Alternative transport routes, such as freight transport by rail or sea, usually have a competitive disadvantage.

The truck toll in Germany was introduced on January 1, 2005 and has been in force on all federal highways since July 2018. However, it is set depending on the classification of the trucks in pollutant classes and independently of the actual pollutant emissions.

When road traffic noise trucks are partially included. The previous German “Guidelines for Noise Protection on Roads RLS-90” and the German Traffic Noise Protection Ordinance ( 16. BImSchV ) only contain a rough distinction between cars and trucks on the basis of the permissible total weight. The preliminary calculation method for environmental noise on roads from 2006 classified vehicles from 3.5 t as trucks. In a judgment of October 10, 2012, the Federal Administrative Court in Germany considered the use of the standard value of 2.8 t and the comparative calculation of 3.5 t for the assessment of noise and air pollution for trucks to be permissible.

Truck transport on the rolling road through the Alps

In Switzerland, the performance-based heavy vehicle tax (LSVA) is levied. Heavy traffic now covers more than 100 percent of its costs, as the Federal Supreme Court, the highest judicial authority in Switzerland, stated in its judgment of December 17, 2011.

Life cycle assessment

Compared to trains, trucks have a worse greenhouse gas balance . According to calculations by the VCÖ, a truck with a gross vehicle weight of 3.5 to 32 tons pollutes the environment with fifteen times higher CO 2 emissions than a freight train.

The beginnings of truck construction

In 1893 Panhard et Levassor built a small transport vehicle with an open platform based on their first series vehicle. In 1895, various commercial vehicles were offered in the brand's sales brochure. Finally, in 1896, Panhard et Levassor already had various superstructures on offer. There was a small and a larger van with license of Daimler - V engine and an open or closed structure. The driver's seat could be chosen with or without a cabin. According to the Panhardwerk archives, five vehicles were sold to end customers in 1896. It was not until 1898 that the first “real” truck for a ton of payload was available.

On October 1, 1896, Gottlieb Daimler , founder of the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft , sold the first motorized truck in Cannstatt near Stuttgart . This had a payload of 1.5 tons, a 2-cylinder four-stroke engine with 1.06 liter displacement and an output of 4 hp, which allowed a top speed of 12 km / h. The truck cost 4,600 gold marks and was sold to London . Other truck types with up to 10 HP and up to 5 tons of payload followed. Motorized fire engines, a mobile sawing and splitting machine with a Daimler engine, a light equipment car and Daimler locomotives were also developed and built together with Wilhelm Maybach .

Another “father” of the automobile, Carl Benz , was also active in the early days of truck construction . After designing a motorized bus in 1895 , he presented his first truck in 1900.

Benz trucks from 1912

Another important pioneer in commercial vehicle construction was Heinrich Büssing , who founded Heinrich Büssing, a special factory for motorized trucks, motorized buses and engines in Braunschweig in 1903 and began series production of trucks in the same year. The Büssing company is also considered to be the inventor of air suspension, the underfloor motor (which is still widespread in buses today) and the articulated bus.

Soon after the "invention" of the truck, a large number of commercial vehicle manufacturers emerged (analogous to the passenger car sector) , most of which only produced small amounts and often disappeared from the market after a few years.


Workplace of a Volvo truck (from 2001)

Trucks in local traffic generally only have a short or medium-length driver's cab with seats and little storage space. In principle, all weight classes up to 40 tonnes are also represented in local and distribution transport, but mostly medium-weight vehicles with a total weight of up to 12 tonnes, and especially 7.5 tonnes, are used. Corresponding to the smaller vehicle size, the latter in particular have, often due to the smaller engine, a driver's cab that sits lower on the chassis and is smaller overall and is also less comfortably equipped than long-distance vehicles. Many vehicles in local traffic at the stern have a hydraulic loading platform that enables loading and unloading at street level at places without a corresponding loading ramps and acts in the closed state as a rear wall of the structure or, for this. T. replaced. These light and medium-weight vehicles are also often used with trailers.

In long-distance transport, trucks have larger driver's cabs with loungers behind the seats. These driver's cabs, also called driver's cab or driver's cab, have often had a raised roof since the mid-1990s so that taller people can also stand upright inside and to provide additional storage space for the driver's personal items. Since motor vehicles in long-distance traffic often also serve as a lounge during standing and rest times, better equipment compared to the “pure” workstations of local traffic vehicles makes sense. In the case of smaller local transport vehicles, on the other hand, a lower installed driver's cab is also advantageous because in distribution traffic frequent entry and exit is necessary and the driver often has to overcome the height difference between street level and driver's cab.

Technical Equipment

Cummins Engine truck engine (2008)
6 cylinder , 6.7  liter , 224  kW , High Common Rail Fuel System, NLC, Euro 5 (2008)
Six-cylinder in-line diesel engine from a Mercedes-Benz Actros
Substructure of a Scania R-series model

In the last few years there have been various technical improvements, e.g. B. automated transmissions , which make the driver's work much easier, and for the brakes ( disc brakes instead of drum brakes ) to increase the safety of heavy vehicles through shorter braking distances. In the area of engines , for decades the focus was primarily on increasing performance, which in some cases was even prescribed by law, and reducing consumption. Since the 1990s, pollutant emissions have also played an increasing role in the further development of commercial vehicle engines (including through the introduction of the Euro emissions standards ). Better exhaust gas values ​​have to be bought at the price of slightly higher consumption, which the legislature is trying to compensate for with appropriate tax legislation that favors better exhaust gas values.

Drive motor

In the beginning of the construction truck were gasoline engines with gasoline as fuel prior art. Steam cars were used in Great Britain even into the 1930s .

Almost forgotten today, numerous cars and distribution trucks with electric drives and lead-acid batteries were also built from around 1900 until the First World War . B. for the parcel delivery of the post until 1977 in Linz . Since 2009, electric heavy-duty trucks have been used again in the port operations in Los Angeles .

While simple, robust glow-head engines were only suitable for slow agricultural machinery and tractors , compact diesel engines with pre-chamber injection ( chamber diesel engines ) were not developed until 1909, but initially offered little advantages for vehicles and were mainly used as marine diesel engines (see diesel engines for the Imperial Navy ). It was not until the 1920s that lighter and more powerful diesel engines for land vehicles began to conquer the market. The technological breakthrough came from 1931 with the vortex chamber injection developed by Harry Ricardo , so that diesel engines became established in commercial vehicle construction thanks to their lower fuel consumption and maintenance costs. For several decades these were both water-cooled and air-cooled (the latter in Germany mainly from Magirus-Deutz ) as well as four-stroke and two-stroke engines (the latter in Germany for many years e.g. from Krupp ). Apart from special uses in very cold regions, the four-stroke diesel engine with direct injection and turbocharger ( turbodiesel ) has established itself as the prime mover in trucks .

Mainly because of the lack of fuel during the war economy in World War II , trucks and other commercial vehicles were built with steam engines and with wood gas engines and wood gasifiers as fuel sources and were used in Germany until the post-war period .

At the end of the 1960s, various manufacturers experimented with gas turbines : A Magirus-Deutz prototype from 1968 was the first German long-distance truck with turbine drive ; Test vehicles from other manufacturers with this technology followed later. With a compact design, gas turbines can offer a high power density, but do not achieve the efficiency of piston engines when it comes to specific fuel consumption, especially at part load . With the exception of aviation, they were only used in series production on some main battle tanks , such as the US M1 Abrams or the Russian T-80 , which are equally notorious for their extremely high fuel consumption.

Chassis and drive train

For a long time, the suspension (and damping) was usually provided by progressively acting leaf spring packages. Since the end of the 1960s, air springs have gradually been established that also allow level control ; important, for example, when picking up and putting down swap bodies. In construction vehicles, leaf suspension, which can withstand higher loads over the long term, is still common today.

The chassis of trucks are usually designed in a frame construction. The various superstructures are placed on this frame. For special purposes, there are also central tubular frames that reach very far down to the floor, for example for drinks transporters.


Truck brakes are operated with compressed air (so-called external power brakes). The achievable braking force is therefore no longer dependent on the driver's foot force, but only on the path that the brake pedal is pressed down. With the handbrake (parking brake) by the pedal force, and in contrast to the car, this brake is released by applying pressure to the brake cylinder. This means that in the event of a defect (loss of pressure) a complete brake failure is excluded and the vehicle is automatically braked. Vehicles have had to have an anti-lock braking system (ABS) since the 1980s . While drum brakes were standard for trucks and trailers well into the 1990s, disc brakes have increasingly been found in heavy trucks and trailers since the mid-1990s .

In addition, and in order to reduce the heavy wear and tear of the brakes, which mechanically act directly on the wheels, due to the high weights to be overcome, the braking force of the motor is used regularly, especially on long downhill stretches. Heavy trucks are often equipped with an additional, almost wear-free, quiet and long-lasting brake, the so-called retarder , particularly in areas of operation in medium or high mountains .

Exhaust system, noise protection

In addition to the previously common absorption silencers, new anti -noise silencers are currently being developed. These are technically capable of lowering the sound by up to 20 dB (A) compared to conventional silencers. A noise reduction of 20 dB (A) is perceived as a reduction of the noise by a quarter. By using this technology, not only heavy trucks can be made as quiet as the current quiet cars.

The electronic counter silencers are smaller and lighter than classic silencers. The counter pressure, which has been reduced by around 35%, has the effect of either increasing performance or reducing fuel consumption and CO 2 emissions. The first active silencers that work with anti-noise are already being used in high-priced cars.

Axles and tires

Truck with five axles, including three steering axles and one lifting axle

Depending on their size, trucks usually have two, three or four axles , with one or, in the case of three- and four-axle vehicles, also both rear axles being able to be driven and the first, and with four-axle vehicles also the two front axles being steerable. In rare cases, rear axles can also be steered, with the drive axles regularly not being steerable. As in the case of passenger cars, there are also trucks with all-wheel drive, in commercial traffic mainly in construction vehicles, otherwise mainly in military and sometimes fire-fighting and special vehicles.

A distinction is made between the types of axles according to steering axle , driving axle and additional axle (s), which also include the axles of a trailer or semitrailer . In addition to the type of axle, the tires also have different profiles for the type of use.

  • The steering axle has the task of guiding the entire truck and transmitting large braking forces, especially with articulated trains. It is provided with so-called steering axle tires, which have a pronounced longitudinal profile and moderate transverse grooves. Often these tires are of the type designation with the letter S in (for engl. Steering = Steering -., For example, " Goodyear Marathon LHS", " Continental HSC" ). Further letters in the tire designation indicate the intended use as long-distance (L for long distance ) or construction site tires (C for construction ). The H for heavy indicates a tire for heavy commercial vehicles. The type designations for other axes and areas of application are usually based on the same scheme.
  • The driving axle bears the greatest axle load. In addition to the drive force, it also transmits the greatest braking force when the articulated lorries are at full capacity. Tires are therefore used on their bikes that have a pronounced lug-like profile - often with M + S identification (winter profile). These usually have the position code D for drive (e.g. " Michelin XDA" ) in the tire designation.
  • Additional axles can be used as trailing axles , leading axles or trailing axles to distribute the weight of the vehicle and transfer more braking power. If the additional axle is attached between the steering axle and the drive axle, it is referred to as a leading axle. To improve the turning circle , a leading axle can also be designed as a steering axle . If the additional axle is attached behind the drive axle, it is referred to as a trailing axle. Tires with a snake or zigzag profile are used here.
  • A lifting axle is an additional axle that can be raised and is only lowered when it is heavily loaded in order to distribute the vehicle weight more evenly on the ground. This axle can then be raised when there is little or no load. On the one hand to prevent wear, especially on the tires when cornering, and on the other hand to put more load on the driven axle (s) for better grip on the road.

The tires carried a truck depending on the axis, that is, there are, depending on the type of axis different basic profiles. While steering axles have single tires, twin tires are mainly used on truck drive axles . To do this, two wheels are screwed together. Special off-road vehicles usually only have single tires on the rear axle - for an effectively wider base . In the 1990s, rim-weight-saving wide tires also appeared as a replacement for twin tires, but these are only used for large-volume transporters with smaller tire diameters. In addition, there are special trailer or trailer tires (item code T for many manufacturers, e.g. “Marathon LHT”, “Conti HTL” ), which have the same profile as the steering axle tires, but hardly have to transfer steering forces.

A distinction must also be made as to whether a tire is used in local, regional or long-distance traffic, as well as for construction sites or heavy off-road applications, since tires have different speed indices and load capacities in addition to the different profile patterns. The loads that act on a tire of a garbage disposal vehicle are different from those of a long-distance truck, because the garbage truck does not drive high speeds in inner-city traffic, but is stressed by frequent turning, starting and braking, while long-distance tires last for several hours is exposed to almost constant high speeds. Particularly high demands are placed on the latter in terms of good tracking properties, while good adhesion properties are in the foreground in the case of a construction tire.

In contrast to a car , a truck is often equipped with all-season tires and does not have different tires for summer and winter. The tires of a truck are subject to lower speeds because of their large diameter and the lower speed of the truck. The requirement of the harder mixture for higher speeds does not arise, but that of a coarser profile that grips better in snow. If a truck gets stuck on a slippery road in winter, it may be because it is on summer tires or that it is not or only very lightly loaded. If the driver accelerates too much, the wheels spin and there is little traction between the wheel and the road. In this case, a responsible driver will tighten snow chains or interrupt the journey in good time.

In Austria, detectors for tire pressure loss have long been standard for dangerous goods tanker trucks (due to the high risk potential) and for some time also sling chain systems have been mandatory on the drive axles, which rotate short pieces of chain around the wheel-floor contact point.

There are also trucks as special vehicles that have additional wheel sets so that they can be driven on railroad tracks. One then speaks of a two-way vehicle .

Construction types

Depending on the intended use, especially with regard to the special properties of the cargo, a large number of different types of construction have developed over time. The possible uses are basically only limited by the maximum external dimensions and total weights. A rough distinction can be made between largely universally applicable standard bodies and special bodies for special types of goods, for special work tasks and for purposes other than commercial goods transport.

Standard superstructures

Some common designs for bulk goods or a wide range of possible uses are largely standardized today or, at least in the basic design, have become largely identical. These include fixed, open loading areas (so-called flatbeds ), closed boxes and tank superstructures, which already existed at the time of horse-drawn carriages . In addition, tipper vehicles (mainly for use in the construction industry ) with superstructures designed as tipping flatbeds or troughs , insulated and refrigerated superstructures and chassis to accommodate interchangeable containers such as containers have long been established . These can also be found on rail freight cars (with the exception of the tipping platforms) . A precise definition of standard bodies is not possible, but they can be differentiated on the one hand according to their distribution and on the other hand according to their degree of specialization, i.e. their suitability for the transport of many different (and not just a few) types of goods:

designation Explanation example
Flatbed structure The simplest and at the same time the most universally applicable design is the platform: The most original variant of the platform is a simple flat platform without side walls as a loading area above the chassis (which can still be found today in rare cases). In order to prevent the load from sliding down or falling while driving, flatbeds have almost always been provided with side walls for a long time. As a rule, the drop sides can be folded down at the sides and at the rear for easier loading and unloading (brackets), while the drop side is firmly installed towards the front and prevents the load from hitting the driver's cab during heavy braking, for example. In administrative language, this form is also referred to as an “open box”. Nowadays, fixed platform bodies are mostly supplemented with a truck tarpaulin carried by a tarpaulin frame (the so-called bow) , which encloses the loading space to the front, back, side and top, but can be opened to the side and rear. This enables a limited protection of the load against external influences such as B. the weather. When transporting goods that are not sensitive to the weather, flatbed vehicles without tarpaulin are also used. Tipper trucks have an open-top platform structure with a platform that can be tilted backwards and / or to the side (with side walls that can be opened). These trucks are mainly used to transport weather-resistant bulk materials such as sand or excavated earth. As a special form for the transport of more sensitive goods such as B. Grains are sometimes also provided with closed boxes with roof openings for loading and designed to be tiltable, or open superstructures are provided with tarpaulins or car ceilings, but these are actually classified as special superstructures.
Fixed platform structure
with tarpaulin
solid platform construction
without tarpaulin
Closed box The loading area is completely enclosed with solid walls and covered. Mostly only the back is designed in the form of doors, the side walls are solid. Doors in the sides or completely hinged are also less common. Subspecies are:
  • Panel van : The fully enclosed and roofed loading space is connected to the driver's cab or designed as a unit with the driver's cab. In Germany today, this type of construction is only common for small vans and delivery vans. Until about the beginning of the 1970s, however, it was also widespread in trucks, especially furniture vans. This type of construction became obsolete with the advent of tiltable truck cabs, since tilting the cab is not possible with a permanently attached body.
  • Box body : In today's standard design, also known as a box because of its externally separate shape, the box-shaped, fully enclosed and roofed cargo area is not connected to the driver's cab, but only placed on the chassis.
  • Refrigerated trucks : For the transport of perishable goods or goods that are bound to certain storage temperatures due to their chemical properties, box or box bodies are usually used, which are additionally equipped with a cooling unit and insulation . Tank trucks are also less often equipped with refrigeration units, but these are not generally referred to as refrigerated vehicles.
Panel van (here: moving van )
Box body
Tank structure Tank trucks are used to transport loose liquids , i.e. liquids that have not been filled into containers , which are usually to be transported in large quantities of one type. Tank superstructures often have subdivisions into several chambers that are not recognizable from the outside, on the one hand to accommodate different types (petrol / heating oil / ...) at the same time and to reduce dangerous sloshing when cornering and braking even with partial loads. They are usually loaded from above through lids, unloaded either through hoses and pumps from above or (more often) through fittings with drain taps and hose couplings on the side or below. The effect of gravity is sufficient for unloading fuel in underground tanks, and a separate return line “shuttles” the gas phase back. One construction is circular in cross-section, another is arched-rectangular. Noticeably small tanks indicate a high density of the cargo (e.g. sulfuric acid , animal blood). In order to remain liquid, bitumen is hot, fat is at least protected from the cold, while liquefied nitrogen is, on the other hand , very cold and therefore all transported with thermal insulation. Tanks for the liquefied gases propane / butane must hold a vapor pressure of around 20 bar. For gases at 200 bar high pressure there is a special construction with a bundle of 9 long steel cylinders.
Tank truck
Carrier systems for swap bodies Since the late 1960s (originally coming from the USA ) the use of vehicles with interchangeable bodies has spread. For this purpose, the truck chassis is provided with receiving devices that are standardized in terms of their distance from one another and their shape, which find their counterparts in likewise standardized, interchangeable containers:
  • Container chassis : This construction is used to lock ISO containers , which can also be transported on railway container wagons, but are mainly transported on ships in international trafficand with which a large part of world trade is now handled. In addition to these globally standardized containers, there are other container systems. B. Railway containers from Deutsche Bahn AG , which in principle function similarly and are also based on a standardization of containers and carrier systems. As a system that is similar to the container, but can be used more universally inland, the ...
  • Swap systems (engl swap bodies.) With a predominant use in Germany and partly in Western Europe: This is like containers are standardized systems of carrier chassis (truck chassis or railroad cars), and attachable, interchangeable containers. In contrast to the standardized standard containers , these swap bodies or swap bodies have their own foldable and retractable supports, which is why they can be set up and set down at any location in truck traffic without the help of container cranes. In addition, they offer an interior space tailored to European dimensions, which is slightly larger than that of the 20-foot container, which is tailored to US dimensions and needs.
  • Change loader vehicle : Used to transport roll-off (not to be confused with ISO containers ) or mobile skips such. B. for the disposal of bulky waste or rubble .
  • Mobiler : This is a special form of swap-loader vehicle with horizontal handling technology for combined rail / road transport.
  • Side loader : Special trailer for the transport and infrastructure-independent transshipment of ISO containers onto / from rail wagons , container chassis and floor
Hook device with roll-off containers

Special bodies for commercial goods transport

In addition to the standard bodies, which are largely identical in their basic construction or suitability and are suitable for a large number of different goods, a large number of special bodies have emerged that are predestined for certain cargo. As a rule, these have arisen due to the special properties of these goods, as they have proven to be useful for these goods at least for a rational and cost-effective transport process. The most important characteristics are:

designation Explanation example
Car transporter for transporting vehicles. A distinction is made between closed and open car transporters.
Car transporter
concrete mixer for transporting ready- to- use concrete to construction sites
concrete mixer
General cargo transporter Truck with a special flatbed structure for transporting drinks to the end customer
Glass transporter Special construction for the transport of glass panes
Glass transporter
Long material vehicles for extra-long cargo such as steel girders (these are structurally relatively close to normal flatbed vehicles)
Long material
Log transporter Special form of the long material vehicle, in which the towing vehicle and trailer are often only connected by a cable package and not by a fixed chassis. The line package usually consists of the supply lines for air, electrics and hydraulics, which are held in a hose similar to a fire hose . It is attached to a rope under the trunks, which only has the task of suspending and guiding the cable package and is therefore not a train connection. The connection is created by the appropriately secured logs themselves. The Schwigger used to steer the trailer in tight bends with a handwheel, today this is done by remote control.
Dump truck Dump trucks are a special type of tipper vehicle with non-foldable and specially reinforced side walls, which are used for special loads, e.g. B. used in the construction industry. Today they are mainly to be found in the form of a semitrailer with a trailer and a tipping body on it. There are also oversized dump trucks that are not approved for road use and are only used internally e.g. B. be used in quarries or mines . Engine exhaust gas can be directed through wide stiffening ribs (aluminum or steel) to prevent moist cargo from freezing on.
Dump truck (here: dumper)
Silo structure for powdery and free-flowing bulk goods , often combined with an installation device for tilting the container for emptying and compressed air devices for making it flow and conveying. Low-density goods make particularly voluminous silos useful (for soy flakes up to 60 m³)
Silo structure
Low loaders as well as large and heavy transporters These often exceed the prescribed maximum dimensions or weights and therefore require special permits. The largest heavy transporter is the Scheuerle LS 250 "Heuler". B. is used by the rail subsidiary Heavy Cargo + Service for transformer transport.
Cattle transporter or crate wagon for the transport of live animals
Livestock truck

Other special bodies

In addition, for the sake of completeness, a few other special bodies should be mentioned in which the commercial transport of goods (contrary to the above basic definition of trucks) is not the main purpose or does not play a role at all. These vehicles also fall under the concept of trucks insofar as truck chassis usually serve as the basis for these special vehicles. The following are examples of a large number of variants:

designation Explanation example
Tow truck for recovering broken-down or illegally parked vehicles
Truck crane for lifting heavy loads when loading and unloading vehicles, also on construction sites and during rescue work after accidents
Truck crane
Expedition vehicle Trucks with housing for trips to less developed countries or areas, often with all-wheel drive
Expedition vehicle
Articulated mast very variable aerial work or aerial rescue platform , which can also be used as a crane, to reach great heights or places that are not accessible with lifting platforms or turntable ladders
Articulated mast
Equipment trolley Special vehicle of the aid organizations, which is designed to bring extensive equipment for a field of activity to deployment sites
Equipment trolley replenishment
Equipment vehicles Emergency vehicle from various authorities and organizations with security tasks in Germany
Equipment vehicles of the THW
Elevator Mobile working platform for reaching street lights , overhead lines , gantries , etc., often in the service of authorities and utilities
Inloader the narrow, low-lying loading platform is rectangular and trough-shaped, lies on the side between the swing arms and can be loaded from the rear, where the loading sill can be lowered until it lies on the road. For cable drums or packages of standing flat glass held by pressing from the side (often also as a semi-trailer ).
sweeper for street cleaning
Personnel carriers In the military and the police , in addition to buses , trucks are sometimes equipped with seats on the loading area to transport people. Personnel carriers are also used for civil purposes, e.g. B. when many people have to be transported on rough terrain (e.g. in mining).
mobile kitchen / field kitchen for feeding people outside of suitable fixed facilities (e.g. in the field), mainly for the military and aid organizations
Mobile kitchen
Garbage truck for garbage collection
Garbage truck
Pump truck Construction of a pump and long hoses and / or pipes for pumping liquids (e.g. liquid concrete )
Pump truck
Clearing and gritting vehicle in winter service to clear roads from ice and snow
Clearing and gritting vehicle
Suction and pressure trucks This special form of the tank truck is used to empty sludge and septic tanks and to clean sewers.
Suction and pressure trucks
Self-propelled machines These are work machines such as saws, drilling rigs, etc., which are mounted on a truck chassis and which are intended to be mobile.
Self-propelled working machine with drilling equipment
Explosive vehicle This further special type of tank truck can be used for street cleaning and irrigation .
Explosive vehicle
Tower car like the lifting platform for reaching street lights , overhead lines , sign gantries, etc., often in the service of rail transport companies or trolleybus operators
Tower car
OB van Broadcasting broadcast vehicles
OB van
Sales car for street sales of z. B. Food
Sales car
water cannon Police vehicle that can be used as part of police work for protection and hazard prevention at large events and demonstrations, as well as to support disaster control or as an auxiliary fire engine.
water cannon

In principle, this list must remain incomplete, as basically almost any technical device or almost any construction up to a certain size and weight can be built on a truck in order to be used on a mobile basis. A variety of special structures are available, for example. B. for:

There is actually nothing that does not exist - from mobile beehives to mobile document shredders . Due to the variety of conceivable body variants, the body is usually not carried out by the truck manufacturer itself, but by other companies that specialize in this. In addition to some large, internationally active manufacturers, a large number of medium-sized companies, which have often focused on special bodies and offer maintenance and repair for most body types, have maintained their position as providers up to the present.

EC control device (tachograph)

According to EU law, all commercially used trucks with a gross vehicle weight of more than 3.5 t must be equipped with a so-called EC tachograph (old: tachograph ; new: EC control device ) and a speed limiter . These must be checked every two years for intactness (protection against manipulation) and adequate accuracy and, if necessary, repaired and / or recalibrated. The control device is used to record the driving speed at the exact time, the distances covered, the driving, working, standby and rest times as well as their interruptions, which are made by the crew.

Since May 1, 2006, all new trucks must take with electronic tachographs ( Tachograph be equipped) with a digital black box, which records 365 days, and with a personal driver card (smart card) that at least 28 days, driving and rest periods , work Willingness and On-call service stores. This new digital documentation should be much more tamper-proof than the previous recordings on a speedometer or diagram disc. Since the driver change with the driver card is quick and unbureaucratic (with the old EC control device, the tachograph disc always had to be filled in again, moved or provided with new entries), numerous special regulations or control device exemptions, e.g. B. for fire engines and buses but also special vehicles that are exempt from the obligation to record driving and working hours are currently on the test bench. One of the main reasons for the exemption from the control obligation by inserting a tachograph disc into the control device was the associated time and effort that is no longer required in the electronic age.

Electronics in the truck

Most of the new types of trucks are or will soon be equipped with extensive electronics, e.g. B .:

Trucks can already use B. Dock semitrailers at the ramp gate in container terminals and identify semitrailers to be picked up via satellite. Coupling and uncoupling can now also be done automatically. The spread of these modern techniques is steadily increasing. The electronically upgraded truck (and thus its driver) can now also be monitored by mobile or stationary acquisition computers, which z. B. record speed, distance to the vehicle in front, driving, rest and working times, whereby a large amount of data is collected for the authorities.

On the one hand, this development could be questionable with regard to the basic right of informational self-determination . On the other hand, it could also happen that the driver in the "automated" truck becomes superfluous if the technology on the road works as well as it does in numerous closed industrial plants and ports around the world, in which goods and containers only pass through fully automatically and without personnel driverless transport systems are moved and sorted.

Trucks as an advertising medium

The effect of trucks as an advertising medium should also not be underestimated: when they are used in traffic on public roads and in public places, they are seen by many people. It therefore makes sense to use the outside areas that are already available and visible to everyone, especially of the truck body, for advertising in order to arouse attention for products and / or companies by means of appropriate labeling. But there are also vehicles whose main or sole purpose is advertising, e.g. B. by being parked in an exposed location with appropriate labeling and left there or serving as a promotional vehicle.

Security and technical review

Truck accident

As a result of their participation in road traffic, trucks are exposed to certain safety and accident risks or cause them, e.g. B. by:

  • Failure to observe the prescribed driving and rest times
  • Insufficient safety distance from the truck in front
  • insufficient load securing and overloading
  • transported hazardous substances (e.g. poisonous, highly flammable or explosive substances)
  • Insufficient maintenance and care of the vehicle (e.g. worn brake pads, worn tires)
  • Drivers who are stressed about appointments
  • Confusion of the vehicle (especially when maneuvering and reversing)
  • Blind spot (especially dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists when turning, a safety precaution is the mandatory side underrun protection)
  • Lack of lighting on parked trucks
  • large mass of trucks, which leads to great dangers for smaller and lighter road users in collisions
  • Fine dust and soot emissions

Technical review in Germany

The trucks registered in Germany (around 2,600,000 trucks and around 200,000 semitrailer tractors ), like all other commercially used vehicles, are subject to the annual main and emissions test by the TÜV or another recognized vehicle expert organization (the emissions test also being carried out by an approved Workshop).

Trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 12 t and more and trailers with a gross vehicle weight of 10 t or more also require an inspection book and must be presented for a safety check every six months. This can be done by an approved workshop.

Technical review in Austria

In Austria , the truck, like all other motor vehicles, is subject to § 57a assessment (but annually) and receives the sticker . As recently as the 1990s, trucks did not have to go to a workshop for inspection like cars, but were summoned annually to testing institutes of the respective state government.

Major truck manufacturers

There have been and still are a large number of important truck manufacturers throughout history. See the list of commercial vehicle manufacturers and the main article History of the Commercial Vehicle Industry .

See also


  • Werner Oswald : German trucks and delivery vehicles, Volume 2, 1945-1969. 3. Edition. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-613-01197-2 .
  • Werner Oswald: German trucks and delivery vehicles, Volume 3, 1970-1989. 1st edition. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-613-02446-2 .
  • Florian Schneider; Verena Riedl: Future prospects of the> Commercial vehicle <system. VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, Saarbrücken 2010, ISBN 978-3-639-22518-1 .
  • Bernd Regenberg: The most famous German trucks from 1896 until today. 4th edition. Podszun- Motorbücher Verlag, Brilon 1997, ISBN 3-923448-89-9 .
  • Halwart Schrader : German truck classics. 1st edition. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-613-01802-0 .
  • Wolfgang H. Gebhardt: History of the German truck construction volume 1–3. Weltbild-Verlag, Augsburg 1994, ISBN 3-89350-811-2 .
  • Peter J. Davies: Trucks of the World - The Lexicon of Brands and Models , Motorbuch Verlag 2000, ISBN 3-613-02257-5 .
  • Anne Dreesbach and Judith Ludwig: Moving writing. A study on the labeling of logistics trucks . August Dreesbach Verlag, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-940061-79-9 .

Web links

Commons : Trucks  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Lorries  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Camion, the. In: Duden (online edition), Bibliographisches Institut , accessed on February 1, 2018
  2. ( Memento from March 24, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  3. Article on , accessed on October 15, 2011
  5. Article on , accessed on October 15, 2011
  6. Federal Ministry: Transport in Figures 2007, Chapter 11: Road costs - External costs (PDF; 909 kB), p. 220 (in PDF p. 4) (pdf)
  7. VBUS of May 22, 2006 on the website of the Federal Environment Agency
  8. Judgment of October 10, 2012 - BVerwG 9 A November 18
  9. ^ Judgment of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court
  10. Christian Frahm, Emil Nefzger: Mobility Atlas 2019: This is how much driving a car costs - even people who do not drive . In: Spiegel Online . November 5, 2019 ( [accessed November 5, 2019]).
  11. VCÖ: Overall balance shows the real environmental damage caused by traffic ( Memento from June 12, 2013 in the Internet Archive ),, PDF 658 kB, February 3, 2012, accessed on April 29, 2019
  12. Vermeylen, Bernard: Panhard & Levassor: entre Tradition et Modernité . 1st edition. ETAI, Paris 2005, ISBN 2-7268-9406-2 , pp. 10-20 .
  13. ^ Das Lastwagen Lexikon, page 129. Schrader-Verlag 1998. ISBN 3-613-01837-3
  14. Fleet of electric trucks heading for the port of LA , LATimes of February 25, 2009
  15. Konrad Reif (ed.): Diesel engine management at a glance. 2nd Edition. Springer Fachmedien, Wiesbaden 2014, ISBN 978-3-658-06554-6 . P. 29
  16. a b
  17. a b
  18. ^ Martin Schatzmann: The Sound of Silence. In: May 28, 2015, accessed October 14, 2018 .