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About the Industry

What exactly are commercial vehicles and what does the work truck industry represent? Here is a quick primer. Unlike mass-produced assembly-line passenger cars and trucks, commercial vehicles are primarily designed and produced individually, on a custom-order basis. Their diverse applications, limited volume and nearly limitless body and equipment variations dictate this method of production. 

Typically, commercial trucks are built in a multi-stage process involving three distinct yet interrelated industry segments. To ensure product compatibility, a close-working relationship is necessary between the truck chassis manufacturers and their dealers; truck body, equipment and trailer manufacturers; and truck body, equipment and trailer distributors. 

This is especially important if a truck will be used to do any of the following:

  • Bring maintenance/repair services to homes, industry and business
  • Transport people
  • Fight fires
  • Provide emergency medical/rescue service
  • Transfer disabled vehicles
  • Install/repair telephone, electrical and other utility equipment and services
  • Collect trash for disposal and recycling
  • Construct/maintain roads, homes and buildings
  • Control snow and ice
  • Operate farms 

A multi-billion dollar industry

The size of the U.S. work truck industry was $121.8 billion in 2014. This data — including the shipments value of all commercial truck chassis, truck bodies, trailers, buses, firefighting and other rescue vehicles, and truck equipment — is compiled from the U.S. Bureau of the Census and NTEA sources.

2014 Industry Profile


The $121.8 billion value of shipments estimated for 2014 is a small percentage of the total transportation industry, which also includes shipping, railroad and aerospace. The truck equipment segment (excluding chassis, trailers and axles from the chart above) represents approximately $27.3 billion of the total commercial vehicle industry.

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