Your Complete Guide to the Different Types of Food Trucks Available

photo of a dark-haired man walking in front of a blue van food truck on a city street

Photo by Alvin Mahmudov on Unsplash

Choosing your daily driver usually means spending a few hours at the dealership taking test drives, negotiating upgrades, and applying for financing. If everything works in your favor, you drive home in a new car.

Investing in a food truck requires more time, more research, and more money.

If you’re starting a mobile food business or considering adding a truck to an existing business, you’ve come to the right place. Before you take another step (or another drive), read our guide to the different types of food trucks.

Whether you’re considering a food van or your business model requires something more extensive, this post should help you narrow down your choices.

Know Your Needs Before You Shop

Your business model determines the food truck you buy.

A bakery, a mobile food vendor, and a non-profit meal delivery service each requires a different truck type and layout. Food businesses don’t all have the same equipment needs, size requirements, or budgets. Add to that the different state and local health regulations, and it’s no wonder things often get confusing when deciding which truck makes the ideal fit.

When you work with a food truck manufacturer, you’ll first answer several questions about your business and your needs. This helps you and the manufacturer determine which truck design will best serve your needs.

There’s no need to look at 24’ trucks if a cargo van makes a better fit for your unique business. And if you know you’ll need all the room that a step van affords, likewise there’s no need to look at box trucks.

The Cargo Van

Don’t let the word van make you think only small size businesses use this type of food truck.

Food vans come in a range of sizes, but it’s what’s inside that counts. Are you running a small bakery delivery service? Then you probably don’t need onboard baking facilities, and a small cargo van may work just fine. Grocery stores with at-home delivery services often use cargo vans.

Even a smaller nutrition service company could have a cargo van converted to accommodate their need to keep food at the proper temperature. Vans are so popular in the mobile food vending industry you’ll see a wide range of van conversion configurations.

Depending on size, food vans can hold:

  • Drink and/or Food Preparation Counter
  • Refrigerated Display Cabinets
  • Lighting
  • Independent Water System
  • Built-In Generator
  • Compartment for Cooking Gas System
  • Fryer
  • Grill/Griddle

While you can’t say the sky’s the limit, you get a wide range of options when you buy a food van. You’ll get even more options when you buy a step van, which we’ll cover next.

Step Vans as Food Trucks

If you’ve ever noticed the vehicles driven by bread, linen, or parcel delivery services companies, you’ve likely seen a step van in action. Remember the milk delivery trucks from the good old days? Food truck builders also enjoy using step vans and here’s why.

A food delivery service or a mobile food vending company needs one significant thing the step van offers. Space! Converting a step van to a food truck means you get abundant space, including headspace, as step vans have much higher roofs than cargo or compact vans.

You can configure a step van to meet your needs for workspace, storage space, ventilation, and any advanced cooking equipment you plan to use. Step vans range in length from 12 to 30 feet.

The Box Truck

The name says it all—this type of food truck is a rectangular shaped box with a separate cab. This is in contrast to the step van, where instead the cab and body are usually only separated by a sliding door.

If your business model includes frozen, refrigerated, or heated foods in large quantities, a box truck might just work best!

Box trucks can carry more weight than most other types of trucks used for food trucks. That means you can deliver or store more food and you can also install more (and heavier) cooking equipment.

Like the step van, a food truck company can convert a box truck into a full-service kitchen. A box truck, an innovative design, and an attractive wrapping all work together to create one fantastic food truck!

The Pickup Truck Body

The ever-popular pickup truck isn’t relegated to ranches, construction sites, or moving friends and their belongings. Look closely next time you see a mobile food business and you may recognize a pickup truck chassis under the food business wrap.

While you likely wouldn’t choose this style if your business model includes preparing entire meals, they make the perfect partners for a food service business that offers pre-made food and drinks. You’ll see them on job sites and in parking lots all over the country.

Need More Information About Types of Food Trucks?

If you’ve decided to start a food truck business, you’re in good company. With a projected value in 2020 of a little over 996 million dollars, the food truck business remains if not a popular endeavor, a successful venture.

With the different types of food trucks available to food business entrepreneurs today, you can find one to fit any food business model. And that’s the key to buying the right truck—matching the truck type to the type of business you want to operate.

Whether you go with a small cargo van, step van, box truck, or a design mounted on a pickup truck or cutaway van, you’ll have plenty of options to help meet your business needs.

If you’re ready to take the next step in the food business and want to choose your truck, contact us today. We’ve served the food industry for over 30 years and stand by our reputation as the experts in designing and producing food trucks.

Want more food truck advice? Check out more blog posts here!

Thinking about starting a food truck? Request a free custom quote and one of our food truck specialists will help you design the truck of your dreams.

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