The gross weight of a vehicle (GVW) is the weight of the empty vehicle plus the weight of the maximum payload that the vehicle was designed to carry. In cars and small light trucks, the difference between the empty weight of the vehicle and the GVW is not significantly different (1,000 to 1,500 lbs). The largest trucks and tractor-trailers, however, have a payload capacity share of 200%, which means they can carry 200% of their empty weight. The medium-sized trucks (truck classes 3-6) have payload capacity shares between 50% and 100%.

Payload Capacity Share by Weight Class

Supporting Information

Gross Vehicle Weight vs. Empty Weight of Vehicles
Vehicle DescriptionTruck ClassGross Vehicle Weight Range (Pounds)Empty Vehicle Weight Range (Pounds)Maximum Payload Capacity (Pounds)Payload Capacity Share (Percent of Empty Weight)
Cars 3,200-6,0002,400-5,0001,00020%
Minivans, Small SUVs, Small Pick-Ups14,000-2,4003,200-4,5001,50033%
Large SUVs, Standard Pick-Ups2a6,001-8,5004,500-6,0002,50040%
Large SUVs, Standard Pick-Ups2b8,501-10,0005,000-6,3003,70060%
Utility Van, Multi- Purpose, Mini-Bus, Step Van310,001-14,0007,650-8,7505,25060%
City Delivery, Parcel Delivery, Large Walk-in, Bucket, Landscaping414,001-16,0007,650-8,7507,25080%
City Delivery, Parcel Delivery, Large Walk-in, Bucket516,001-19,5009,500-10,0008,70080%
City Delivery, School Bus, Large Walk-in, Bucket619,501-26,00011,500-14,50011,50080%
City Bus, Furniture, Refrigerated, Refuse, Fuel Tanker, Dump, Tow, Concrete, Fire Engine, Tractor-Trailer726,001-33,00011,500-14,50018,500125%
Refuse, Concrete, Furniture, City Bus, Tow, Fire Engine (straight trucks)8a33,001-80,00020,000-26,00054,000200%
Tractor-Trailer: Van, Refrigerated, Bulk Tanker, Flat Bed (combination trucks)8b33,001-80,00020,000-26,00054,000200%

Source: National Academy of Sciences, Technologies and Approaches to Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles, prepublication copy, March 2010, pp. 2-2 and 5-42.

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