When I think about a truck, the image that first comes to mind is four wheels, two doors, and a bed. However, times are changing, and while the government's CAFE standards still only have two categories, car and truck (based on the NHTSA designations explained below), evidence makes me believe perhaps it's time to broaden the current perception.

Why is it important to have a set definition of a truck? See the "exhibits" below. The lines are far more than simply "blurry" - more like they have crossed over completely.

Exhibit A: A friend of mine was ecstatic about the new truck he just purchased. But he refused to tell me the make or model; it was to be a surprise. I certainly was surprised - his "truck" was a brand-new Ford Explorer (the 2011 North American International Auto Show Truck of the Year winner). I saw an SUV; Ford also qualifies this vehicle as an SUV. Apparently my friend, the NAIAS, and the government, see a truck.

Exhibit B: Recently, a news item came across the wire about the International Truck of the Year award winner - the 2011 Kia Sportage . This vehicle is described, by Kia, as a compact Crossover.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website includes these definitions for a car or a truck:

1) Passenger Car - any 4-wheel vehicle not designed for off-road use that is manufactured primarily for use in transporting 10 people or less.

2) Truck - a 4-wheel vehicle which is designed for off-road operation (has 4-wheel drive or is more than 6,000 lbs. GVWR and has physical features consistent with those of a truck); or which is designed to perform at least one of the following functions: (1) transport more than 10 people; (2) provide temporary living quarters; (3) transport property in an open bed; (4) permit greater cargo-carrying capacity than passenger-carrying volume; or (5) can be converted to an open bed vehicle by removal of rear seats to form a flat continuous floor with the use of simple tools.

What, exactly, do "features consistent with those of a truck," mean?

I think it's time to expand the traditional definitions of cars and trucks, and add in the categories of SUVs and CUVs. Basing a definition simply on the chassis leaves much to be desired, and provides unequal competition in many of our car and truck awards. Is it time to add a Utility Vehicle of the Year award to the traditional Car and Truck versions? Do you consider these vehicles trucks? How do you determine whether vehicles are cars or trucks in your fleet?

Agree or disagree? Let me know!

Lauren Fletcher

Lauren.Fletcher@bobit.com

Author

Lauren Fletcher
Lauren Fletcher

Executive Editor

Lauren Fletcher has covered the truck fleet industry since 2006 and is the executive editor of Work Truck magazine.

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Lauren Fletcher has covered the truck fleet industry since 2006 and is the executive editor of Work Truck magazine.

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