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How to Select the Right Truck

Now that you have determined what segment of the food delivery industry is the right fit for you, it is time to get to the selection of the truck that fits your needs.

For the sake of this discussion, we are assuming you will be using a vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) under 26,000 pounds. This includes a vehicle classifications one through six.

The number of packages or boxes to be delivered in the days delivery schedule will determine the size of the van body for your truck.
The total weight of the packages will determine the classification (or GVWR) of the truck.

The number of stops and the product will have an effect on type and number of doors for your delivery truck. Your route may require a side door in addition to the standard rollup rear door. Finding the right truck with a side door can be difficult but a fabrication shop can install a door on the side that best fits your route requirements.

If considering a used or pre-owned truck, the miles to be driven per day, per week, and annually may determine the age and mileage of the delivery truck you select.

Cargo vans are mostly used for very small and lighter weight deliveries, including quick or “hot shot” deliveries. These vans will be rated as class one and two.

cargo vancargo van

The European style high roof vans can accommodate much higher cubic capacity loads and are sometimes used for deliveries that don’t require the full size box or cutaway van.

cargo vancargo van

Parcel vans, aka cube vans, cutaway, and box trucks make up a large percentage of the class 3 size trucks. The specific definition of a “cutaway” means that it has a cab style of a cargo van, but with a rectangular cargo box installed against he cab. These trucks generally have a van body size of 14’ to 16’ and a payload capacity of 3,000 pounds to 4,000 pounds. The majority of used trucks in this category come from the large, nationwide rental and lease companies and are sold through used truck dealers who purchase them in large volumes when the lease / rental companies move them out of their fleet. Advantages to purchasing this type truck is the maintenance it has received during its lifetime and the useful life still in the truck. These trucks can be equipped with “pull out loading ramps” and small capacity lift gates. These truck shown on the right is available in class 3 through 5 in varying lengths up to 22’ cargo boxes.

Typical cutaway style, aka cube van, box truck
(sometimes with engine driven “coolers”)
cutaway van
Separate cab and van body
(available in refrigerated models)
separate cab and van body

A “step van” is also a very popular used fleet delivery vehicle, well maintained, but kept in service by the original owner for longer period of times. The companies may be snack and chip manufacturers / distributors, laundries, home health care operations, and parcel delivery fleets such as Fed-X. These trucks are designed specifically for city delivery operations requiring up to a hundred stops daily. The cargo area can range from 12’ to 22’ ft in length and are built in GVWR classifications 3 through 5. These trucks are very popular right now with the food truck frenzy.

step vanstep van

Straight Trucks, aka box trucks, are generally built in 18’ to 26’ cargo body lengths. Some are classified as Class 5 but most are rated as class 6. (also built in classes 7 and 8) These trucks are built for the purpose of carrying larger volumes of weight and cubic ft. capacity, and sometimes for greater distances and more miles on a an annual basis. Many are built with refrigeration units with temperatures as cold as “0” degrees Fahrenheit. Most are equipped with loading equipment such as “pull out ramps”, different styles and types of hydraulic lift gates, ranging in platform size and lifting capacity.

straight truckstraight truck

The chart below can be helpful in selecting the correct vehicle.

GVWR Classes
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (lbs)
Light Duty Class 1 <6,000 Small Cargo Delivery Vans
  Class 2 6,000-10,000 Standard Size Cargo Vans – 3 weight capacities available
Med Duty Class 3 10,000-14,000 Box Truck, Cube Van, Cutaway Van, Step Van
  Class 4 14,000-16,000 Box Truck, Straight Truck, Step Van
  Class 5 16,000-19,500 Box Truck, Straight Truck, Step Van
  Class 6 19,501-26,000 Box Truck, Straight Truck


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