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Why Are Trucks Also Called Lorries?

Why Are Trucks Also Called Lorries?

You have heard the buzz regarding the difference between trucks and lorries despite having a similar definition in the dictionary. Both terms have the same meaning and purpose of transporting heavy goods from one place to another. 

Why Are Trucks Also Called Lorries? The word truck finds its usage in the USA for goods carrying vehicles while word lorry is more common for large goods vehicles (LGV) in the UK. All lorries are trucks, but not all trucks are lorries, especially the most popular pickup trucks in the USA.

The confusion is due to the difference in British and USA English vocabulary like many other words. 

Why Are Trucks Also Called Lorries?

Term Lorry is used in the UK for goods carrying vehicles by road and has the same meaning as a truck in the USA.

It is important to remember that the term lorry is specific for heavy goods vehicles (HGV) or LGV and not every vehicle.

The maximum gross weight limit for them is above 3.4 to 3.6 tons. So you will even find HGVs in the UK having the capacity to carry about 45 tons.

The number of axles can vary from 2 to 6, and their types can vary according to the gross weight limit of the lorry.

According to their design, structure, loading capacity, and intended applications, these are of multiple types similar to trucks in the USA.

Few common types are tipper truck, tanker, flatbed, transporter, Moffet, crane mounted, walking floor, and many others. Most have names according to their shape and mode of operation to transport goods. 

You will find the same types and designs of large goods vehicles under the category of pickups in the USA.

Similarities between a truck and a lorry

Both words are synonyms and identical in their purpose, loading capacity, types, and skills needed to drive them.

Other aspects like price range, maintenance requirements, and insurance requirements are also similar for both. 


According to definition, both are used to transport goods, cargo, specialized materials like chemicals and oils, and other services.

They are the main source of transportation for goods delivery business intercities in the UK and interstates in the USA.

Therefore, both have the same purpose and utilization. 

Loading capacity

According to the Department of Transport, UK, motor vehicles above 3400-3600 kgs gross weight registers under the category of lorries.

Another term used for them is heavy goods vehicles. 

It can be one of the reasons why lorries in the UK and trucks in the USA are similar freight-carrying vehicles.

Driving skills

Large goods carrying vehicles with multi-ton loading capacity and multiple axles require special driving skills.

Moreover, air brakes systems also require special licensing and training in the USA. 

Difference between a lorry and a truck

Despite many similarities between both, there are slight differences regarding their operational requirements. 


It is more prevalent in the UK for large goods carrying vehicles or trailers.

The reason behind the term’s common usage goes back to ancient times.


They have a design in which its driver cabin and the goods carrying part are separate. While in smaller pickups, you will find them connected as a unified assembly.

For example, articulated lorries are used in America and are called semi-trucks. They have the purpose of pulling large containers or motorhomes. 

Right or left side driving

Different countries have different driving styles and traffic sides. For example, in the UK, vehicles have steering wheels and driver seats on the right side of the cabin.

However, he goes on the left-hand side of the road. At the same time, the order of the drive and roadside traffic is opposite to that in the USA.

Moreover, driving laws and road signs are different in the UK, and roads have changed construction with more roundabouts in the UK, making it challenging to drive an HGV.


Although both have the same purpose of freight delivery services, you will find them used for different specific applications.

In the UK, lorries find applications for carrying large items and materials, including machinery, construction material, and chemicals.

While in the USA, 80%-90% of the vehicles referred to as trucks are pickup trucks. They use it for various applications, from a passenger vehicle to transportation of daily use items.

What is the confusion regarding a lorry and a truck?

Both terms are well defined in the dictionary and trucking industry. In addition, they are well aware of the context and usage of both words in different countries.

You will find both terms used interchangeably for heavy goods vehicles.

However, the use of the word trucks for pickups in the USA makes it confusing to the common public because it is a light good carrying vehicle having a loading capacity of half or a tonne.

Are all lorries trucks?

According to the definition, a lorry is a large vehicle to carry goods with an open or covered flatbed and a separate cabin and goods taking part.

It should have a maximum gross weight limit above 3.4-3.6 tons. While in the trucks category, you will find vehicles from small pickups with a unified cabin and flatbed to large goods carrying vehicles with separatable bodies and multi-toned gross vehicle weight.

Therefore, this category is a broader term taking care of a wide variety of freight carriers.

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