Land transport and types of trucks

Thinking about transportation is thinking about trucks. Ground transportation is omnipresent in our lives and roads and trucks are its backbone. But land transport has very different forms, which translates into very different types of vehicles. Depending on the type of merchandise to be transported, the dimensions or the structure of the vehicle, we must choose the one that best suits our needs.

Types of trucks in land transport

In the first place, based on its structure, we can divide the types of land transport trucks as follows:


They are those vehicles in which the driver’s cabin and the trailer on which the merchandise goes are an indivisible part of the same structure. Being smaller in size, they are usually used in urban transport and parcels.


In contrast to rigid trucks, articulated trucks are made up of two rigid parts that are joined through a joint, hence their name.


It is a type of articulated vehicle which has a cabin (or truck tractor), which is not intended for the transport of merchandise, and a semi-trailer, which is in charge of carrying the materials that will be transported. If when we talk about ground transportation we think of trucks, surely the first thing that comes to mind is a trailer.

road train

In this case, a truck is combined with one or more semi-trailers (the existence of more than one semi-trailer occurs especially in some countries where the distances to be traveled are very long, such as Australia). In Spain, the use of mega trucks of up to 25.25 meters and 60 tons has been approved. One of the great challenges for all these types of vehicles is that due to their dimensions, they have difficulties traveling on some roads that are not designed to house such long vehicles.

By type of merchandise

In ground transportation, the shape and equipment of trucks make them more appropriate for some types of shipments or materials.

Canvas truck (or tauliner)

This type of trailer is the most common and its semi-trailer is covered on the sides and on top with tarpaulins, which can be removed. This allows it to be very comfortable to load and unload and can be adapted to a large number of materials, as well as being indicated for the transport of products that are difficult to load.

open platform

In this case, the platform where the cargo goes is open (although it may be partially covered on the sides depending on the merchandise and the possibility of it moving). Although it also offers many options, it is usually used for heavy goods, construction, etc.


As its own name indicates, the refrigerators are the trucks in charge of the land transport of the merchandise that has to travel refrigerated. Depending on whether they have cold generation systems or just insulation from the outside, they can be refrigerated, refrigerated or isothermal. Food is the most common customer for this type of vehicle.
Although they are less frequent, there are also heat trucks to maintain the temperature above a certain number of degrees.


Very common for ADR merchandise, tanks are used to transport liquid, gaseous and chemical products, which have particular safety requirements.


Enclosed trucks, as opposed to tarpaulins, have a rigid structure in the cargo compartment. This means that they can only be loaded from the rear, while the canvas ones can also be loaded from the sides. They are vehicles commonly used for urban delivery and parcels, although there are also closed-box trailers.

car carrier

These trucks are specifically designed for land transport of cars. There are two models of car carriers: the open one, which is the most common, and the closed one. The latter does not allow vehicles to be seen from the outside and is sometimes used to transport the most expensive cars.

Cage Truck

Cage trucks are used to transport live animals. To do this, they have part of the sides or the roof open so that air reaches the animals and there is sufficient ventilation.


Containers are watertight cargo structures, which allows them to protect the merchandise from inclement weather. They are used for multimodal transport and to facilitate loading and unloading from container ships.

The infinity of materials to transport means that the variety of trucks continues and is very long: hopper (often used for earth movement), stakes (transport of logs, among others), concrete mixer, armored (money movements), vehicles special for heavy machinery and a long etcetera.

According to your weight and category

Trucks for the transport of merchandise are divided into three groups according to their Maximum Authorized Mass (MMA). That is, how much the total vehicle weighs, including the load, the structure of the vehicle, the weight of the driver and other occupants, fuel, etc.
N1: up to 3,500 kilos.
N2: over 3,500 kg and up to 12,000 kg.
N3: over 12,000 kilos.

Due to its level of emissions

Another way of classifying vehicles corresponds to their level of emissions. You may have ever heard that a vehicle is Euro 5 or Euro 6 and you didn’t know what they meant. Well, these nomenclatures refer to the requirements of the European Union regarding the level of emissions of polluting particles (nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide…) from trucks. The most recent is Euro 6, which corresponds to the year 2014, and which requires that new trucks sold abide by the limits it sets.

The great variety in sizes, weights, typologies, purposes and structures attests to the diversity of logistical needs and land transport. Logistics and the supply chain have to pamper their products and an essential step for this is that they are treated in the best way during transport. Being carried in the best temperature conditions, in the most efficient for loading and unloading and in the safest depending on the nature of the merchandise. That is why it is important to know what type of truck suits our ground transportation needs.

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Khaterine William

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