Highway Trucks by Weight

Highway Trucks by Weight

The United States truck fleet grew 23 percent between 1992 and 1997, according to the Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey conducted once every five years [1, 2]. The fleet includes a variety of vehicles, ranging from large 18-wheel combination trucks used to transport freight to small pickup trucks, often used for personal travel.

The fleet of medium and heavy trucks grew 18 percent between 1992 and 1997 (figure 18). However, the number of trucks in one of the heaviest subcategories (those weighing 100,001 to 130,000 pounds) grew 46 percent, from 12,300 trucks to 17,900. Overall, the number of trucks in the heavy category (over 26,000 pounds) grew 37 percent between 1992 and 1997. Light trucks, which include sport utility vehicles (SUVs), minivans, vans, and pickup trucks, represented 86 percent of the truck fleet in 1997.1 Within the light truck category, pickup trucks outnumbered minivans and SUVs.

However, the number of SUVs and minivans increased by 93 percent and 61 percent, respectively, over the previous five years—much faster than the growth rate for pickup trucks (8 percent). Light trucks represent a growing proportion of auto industry sales; consumers purchased more light trucks than passenger cars for the first time in 2001 [3].


1. U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, 1997 Economic Census: Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey: United States, EC97TV-US (Washington, DC: 1999).

2. U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, National Transportation Statistics 2002 (Washington, DC: 2002), table 1-21, also available at http://www.bts.gov/, as of April 2003.

3. U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Highway Statistics 2001 (Washington, DC: 2002), table MV-9, also available at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/ohpi/hss/index.htm, as of April 2003.

1 Here, light trucks include trucks less than 6,001 lbs. In the original source of the data (the Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey), trucks between 6,001 lbs and 10,000 lbs are also categorized as light trucks. See figure 18 for further explanation.