Typical Diesel Truck Loads in the US, China and Europe

FreightWaves claims to be the most trusted provider of global supply chain market intelligence. They provide data on Semi truck load capacity.

Big rigs are limited by federal regulation to a maximum loaded weight of 80,000 pounds including cargo. The type and weight of the truck when empty changes how much can be carried.

Generally speaking, cargo payloads for big rigs or 18-wheelers are as follows:

Flatbed trailers: can load up to 48,000 pounds of cargo
Dry vans trailers: 44,000 to 45,000 pounds
Refrigerated trailers or reefers: 42,500 to 44000 pounds.

NOTE: I proved that the Tesla Semi showed it can move at least 44,000 pounds of cargo on a flatbed trailer.

The reason for the different payloads across the three most common trailer types is the weight of the trailer. Flatbed trailers are usually made of aluminum and as such are very light offering the highest possible payload within the 80,000-pound maximum limit. Dry vans have more to them including a fiberglass body on top of the trailer adding weight and reducing the payload by a few thousand pounds. Refrigerated trailers are even heavier than dry vans as they require insulation inside the fiberglass walls to keep freight cool or frozen plus they have to carry a massive refrigeration motor on the front of the trailer and an extra diesel tank under the trailer.

The maximum amount over each of the three axles groups (one steer axle and two tandems) is as follows:

Steer axle: 12,000 pounds or 6,000 pounds per tire
Drive axle tandems: 34,000 pounds or 4,250 pounds per tire
Trailer tandems: 34,000 pounds or 4,250 pounds per tire.

Individual states also have additional weight carrying limits for intrastate commerce. Heavier loads based on additional axles being installed. To carry higher weights though, the truck axle specification and rating must allow for the heavier weights to be carried. These include:

Rocky Mountain Doubles – a tractor with two trailers: a long front trailer (usually 48 feet) followed by a shorter second trailer – maximum weight up to 129,000 pounds
Turnpike Doubles – a tractor and two long (usually 48 feet) trailers – maximum weight up to 147,000 pounds
Triples – a tractor and three short trailers (usually 28 feet) – maximum weight up to 110,000 pounds
Michigan Octopodes – 8-axle double trailer combinations weighing up to 164,000 pounds.

Truckers in Europe can load 88,000 pounds and usually run 6-axle combinations with tri-axle trailers.

Canadian weight regulations are set by each province based on the number of axles and specifications of the truck. Canadian B-Trains are 8-axle combinations with two trailers that can weigh a maximum of 140,000 pounds and in Ontario 9-axle big rigs can also gross 140,000 pounds.

China allows
* 36,000 pounds for two-axle trucks
* 50,000 pounds for three-axle trucks
* 62,000 pounds for double-steering axles and four-axle trucks
* 72,000 pounds for four-axle combination vehicles
* 86,000 pounds for five-axle combination vehicles
* 98,000 pounds for six-axle combination vehicles.

24 thoughts on “Typical Diesel Truck Loads in the US, China and Europe”

  1. As a driver we mock the keyboard expert but when are you going to realize we sit in bays for hours . Are the delivery bays going to have charging stations . NO and so that ask another question how to solve the consumers added cost to electric delivery. People are tired of tech wizards and there glorious dreams

  2. You can fool all of the people some of the time , you can fool some of the people all of the time , you can’t fool all of the people all of the time . Together you and Elon are the champion hucksters of America . Your stink proceeds you .

  3. A single driver will run on average 125,000 miles a year. That means he will get to 1 million miles in 8 years. A team will cut that number in half. You guys really need to get out from behind your computers and get on the road to fully understand the business. I can see this working for short haul but ultimately the cost will be outrageous as soon as the American taxpayer stops paying the bill.

    • I don’t understand your argument. The more it runs, the more it saves on gas. The gas savings after 2 years is 5 times more than the $40k government subsidy. Tesla semi is 30% more efficient than its nearest electric semi competitor.

  4. For some reason I never hear anyone say that if you wanted to go long range with a Tesla truck you could bolt a generator on the back with a small tank of fuel and extend the range. So save money until the electric power ran out. Even better, charge as you go.
    It being a hybrid would save a lot of fuel.

  5. Lol this is like the Republican that laughed at me when dump won and the boss made blade a road with a barn with a HUGH Dump sign on the roof lol look at dump now Lock him up Lock him up lol just like trucks EV going to take over some of the load at least half no more DEFFor regen lol

  6. I do hate to be the elephant in the room but since you science guys can’t own up to the ulimate failure of this technology, I will do it for you.
    The batteries are worthless in 5 – 10 years or less, depending on use and have to be replaced. So now you have all these cars, trucks, semi’s and trains, at some salvage with how many pounds of hazardous waste? Plus all the those battery-less vehicles that will be scrap. There are currently zero recyclers. WHY? Because it is a ionless hazardous non recycleable paper weights after that. Where are you going to store all of this when the batteries have used their cycle up?
    It is cheaper to buy a whole new vehicle, than it is to replace the battery. Mr. Wang’s hypothesis on booster rockets is correct. It will never beat the fossil fuel that produced it. If it where the breakthrough its made out to be, the energizer bunny would be in a space suit. That Space X rocket doesn’t punch through our atmosphere by rolling 2 sticks down a hill with a magnet attached to it. It does this with that booster rocket engine using good ole fossil fuel.That engine isn’t going anywhere without fossil fuel. When you have a concept, engine, whatever, that you wouldn’t need fossil fuel to produce it, nor power it, let me know. So what have you got? This race was over before it started. 😳 b

    • I believe the latest battery tech last over 1 million miles or 20 years.
      EV battery recycling companies already exist and is a rapidly growing market.
      Basically when the technology to recycle EV batteries already economically exist, supply and demand factors will take over and grow the market.

    • Most if not all fossil fuels can be replaced by organics. The most powerful and efficient rocket motor (specific thrust) are liquid H2, O2 , which space x is developing. It’s the continuation of the old shuttle engines, which were partially reusable.
      As far as batteries, yes there are a lot of recyclers rebuilding batteries in north America, and there are a few mega recycling facilities going up. Very lucrative business, good investment in ones portfolio. As far as EV in trucking, its already happening here in Toronto with autonomous rigs. No or little hills, charging while unloading , they run 24/7 except in winter storms like what we just had. Ii think for x- country rigs, fuel from oil seed , will be used effectively , most farmers will be growing a % of their land for energy production, ie oil seed crops like ripe seed. It’s fairly easy to process to thin it down somewhat to use in diesel engines. The comet head indirect injections work well with seed oil. But this at least reduce the need of fossil fuels in food production, plus the change in infrastructure to accommodate trucking wouldn’t be as much as going all EV. It would raise prices on red meat/dairy produce, mainly because they are very high in land use agriculturally speaking.
      As far as batteries are concerned, there have been some excellent breakthroughs in density and material usage, and as always, it take 10 yrs before it comes into the market place. But how lithium came around in the last 10 yrs is a good example of the time needed. Fuel cells /hydrogen is still 10yrs away. These would be best for trucking in the long term. But fossil fuels will be taxed so much as to put it out of reach for most industries, if not all. And yes we will have to pay for this, considering we should have been changing our ways yrs ago. Only to be broadsided by the big oil and their energy monopoly.

  7. This Brian Wang guy is a Elon shill. Half his assumptions are wrong. I think his whole job is to defend Tesla, and Elon.

    • Where is your data and proof? I have provided my data from visual proof and many other sources. I do censor if someone is just plain insulting with nothing else. I do not have to tolerate rudeness and trolls.

      Make your case. What are the wrong assumptions?

      People like you are the 500k watching every Thunderfoot video. Like the one where he says that SpaceX will fail at replacing long haul point to point air travel by beating the long range 787. He uses the Super Heavy booster and the Starship upper stage fuel consumption. Point to point travel up to 7000-8000 mile range only needs the Starship. 1200 tons of fuel not 4600 tons. about 400% error. Or where he says that the concrete barrier is 6 feet long and only 1000 lbs. There are four rows of barriers (3, 3, 3, 2). the flatbed trailer in 48 feet long. The Tesla Semi is 13.5 tall. 6 Feet means there is room to fit 8 rows of 6 foot barriers. The gaps are not that big where there are half gaps.It looks like 8 feet of total gaps to me. If the concrete is 8 feet long each then there should be 16 feet of gap and room for 6 rows.

  8. Max allowed truck weight in Sweden is currently 64000 kg.
    74000 kg has been investigated and proposed but not yet implemented. The investigation showed that ~10% fuel savings were possible per ton of cargo with 74000 kg max truck weight. The road network in Sweden is built to handle this for the most part.

    Max allowed length here is 24m

    • Sweden is 25,25 meter from August 2023 it increases to 34 meters on som roads.
      Max wait is 74 ton and will be 80 from August 23 already som Company driving thos on dispens

  9. Every truck is different depending on axle count I highly doubt that this so called tesla truck can carry 105,500 pounds like a normal semi or dumptruck I would love to see a tesla truck try to pull 105,500 pounds up a hill I can tell you that it won’t be able to cause it would probably run out of battery before it even hits the stop of the mountain

    • Dude, I think your grossly mistaken.
      An EV truck’s weak point is not climbing a hill, that’s actually it’s strong point.
      It’s clear that you don’t understand this.

      EV vehicles have regenerative brakes.
      For every uphill there’s a downhill and the EV truck will recapture most of the energy it spent climbing that hill.
      What does an ICE truck do downhill? It will fully waste all that energy it used to climb that hill into thermal energy.
      Repeat those hills several times and the difference is very significant.

  10. Knowing the limits tells you nothing about how vehicles are typically operated.

    Most cars fit 5 people, but are typically operated with 1 or 2. Trucks are similar.

    Dead head trips with no trailer, volume limited trips like chips or most consumer goods, expedited trips where a partial load pays more for speed.

    Some trips are long and heavy, most aren’t. Tesla can spend the next decade just serving the easy customers and still be production limited.

  11. How is the range affected by the weight? Does it scale linearly with the inverse weight?

    Given that the Tesla semi has about 3000 HP of motors, it would seem ideal for really heavy loads, if the range is not very adversely affected by weight. Other trucks (diesel) would really struggle with 164 000 pounds…

    • Should not scale linearly but less than linearly.

      Weight doesn’t add much tire friction and of course no air friction.
      The motors might be less efficient at high load.

      So I’m not sure but I’m guessing say somewhere between 30% and 50% difference between full load vs no load,? But then not scaling linearly.

      • Rolling resistance is estimated to be about 4-7% of the energy consumption for these sorts of trucks. Most of it is accelerating the load, (Dominates in cities.) and air resistance. (Dominates for long haul.)

        Electric trucks with regenerative braking should be able to minimize the load acceleration losses, so air resistance will be the big thing.

        Depending on how the load is packed, you could get practically no advantage from running empty.

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