What is a Commercial Vehicle?


If you work a job that requires you to drive, you may be surprised to find out that you may need commercial auto insurance. Some common situations like working as a delivery person or driving a cargo van require more than personal auto insurance in case there’s some kind of accident while you’re on the clock. When driving a commercial vehicle, your personal auto insurance likely won’t cover the claim.

So, what is a commercial vehicle exactly? A commercial vehicle is any vehicle that is used for conducting business. Often, its primary purpose is to move materials or goods rather than people as passengers.

There is usually room for two or three passengers, but behind the passenger seats, there’s a space designed to carry materials, goods or supplies. There also could be a space to tow something large. The majority of the vehicle is designated for these purposes, rather than having seats for passengers.

Classifications of Commercial Vehicles

If you’re a delivery driver, for example, the car you use to deliver your goods would be considered a commercial vehicle. There are some types of vehicles that are designed and built specifically for commercial use, which typically belong to a company. Individuals could also own or lease these vehicles if they specifically intend to use them for business purposes.

There are a few specific classifications that designate a commercial vehicle. If the car has the capacity or is designed to carry 15 or more people, it’s automatically considered part of the commercial vehicle category. If it exceeds a certain weight or is used to carry hazardous materials, the vehicle is designated as commercial as well.

Commercial Trucks

Commercial trucks are classified based on their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), which is the total weight of the truck, including fluids and fuel plus its total cargo capacity.

There are eight classes:

  1. Class 1 is 0 pounds to 6,000 pounds
  2. Class 2 is 6,001 pounds to 10,000 pounds
  3. Class 3 is 10,001 pounds to 14,000 pounds
  4. Class 4 is 14,001 pounds to 16,000 pounds
  5. Class 5 is 16,001 pounds to 19,500 pounds
  6. Class 6 is 19,501 pounds to 26,000 pounds
  7. Class 7 is 26,001 pounds to 33,000 pounds
  8. Class 8 is anything over 33,001 pounds

Any truck that fits into Classes 1 or 2 is considered light trucks, while medium trucks are any truck that fits into Classes 3 through 6. Some Class 6 trucks and any Class 7 or 8 trucks are considered heavy or extra-heavy. Class 8 is comprised of heavy-duty tractor-trailers, for example.

Commercial trucks also fall into categories depending on their configurations, which can include semi-trucks, pick-up trucks, buses, and box trucks.

Commercial Vans

Vans are well known and often used commercial vehicles for jobs in today’s gig economy. There are a number of different variations of vans that fall under the commercial category.

Panel vans are the most common type of commercial vans used and are often the go-to choice because of their spacious cargo bays. They’re usually fitted with front seats for the driver and one or two passengers, and the rest of the van is used to carry materials or supplies.

Double-cab vans are similar to panel vans but have an extra row of seats fitted behind the front seats. There’s less cargo space but it gives the ability to transport a few passengers. Airport shuttles are typically double-cab vans since there’s room to carry passengers and their luggage.

Dropside vans are almost like pick-up trucks with their large open loading bay behind the cab of the vehicle. The difference is dropside vans’ cargo bays open from a side panel rather than a rear panel. This allows for more accessibility when adding or removing tools or materials.

Tipper vans are designed like dropside vans – there’s room for 2 or 3 seats in the cab with a large open loading bay in the rear. Unlike dropside vans, tipper vans have a hydraulic ram that lifts up the cargo bay, similar to a small version of a dump truck.

Other Commercial Vehicles

There are also types of commercial vehicles that are just cabs stripped down to just include a chassis rails behind the seats. Called chassis cabs, these vehicles offer the flexibility to install specific equipment on the back that is used for a specific job.

Regular cars can also be classified as a commercial vehicle, depending on what they’re used for. Taxis and cars used for delivery jobs fall into this category.