About the Industry

What are commercial vehicles and what does the work truck industry represent?

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 

Industry profile

In 2020, due to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, NTEA estimates value of commercial truck industry shipments is expected to decline about 19.6% to a level of $126 billion. In dollar terms, that is a decline of about $30 billion. Truck and trailer segments account for roughly 75% of the value of all freight shipped in the U.S. Buses transport millions of people annually. In addition, work trucks add value to every industry in the U.S. economy.

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