6 Different Types of Food Trucks

Planning to start a mobile food business? You’ll need a food truck to move around the city. There are different types of food trucks that you can use for your mobile food business. But the right choice depends on your business plan and the area you’ll be operating in.

While some mobile food sellers improvise by converting other long vehicles into food trucks. Your best bet is to buy a food truck. Aside from being used to display and sell food to customers, some food trucks have enough space and can also serve as mobile restaurants.

Here, we’ll be looking at the different types of food trucks.

types of food trucks

What is a Food Truck?

Put simply, a food truck is a motorized vehicle – usually van-like – equipped with specific features and installations for food or meal retailing. Some mini trailers, buses, and semi-trucks can be customized and used as food trucks.

The “Truck” in the name doesn’t mean the vehicles used are generally trucks. However, initially, when people started doing the business – mobile food/restaurant business – they used more truck-based vehicles. Today, different types of vehicles are used, including buses.

You’d find food trucks in different states and cities – they’re mostly used in parks, campgrounds, construction sites, and other similar places.

Meals and foods sold using food trucks include pizzas, ice creams, burgers, coffee, soft drinks & beers, and some food trucks with on-board kitchens sell native meals prepared from scratch. 

Different Types of Food Trucks

Now, let’s look at some of the different types of food trucks available on the market.

1. Box Trucks

Box trucks are the most commonly used type of food truck, especially when your chosen food truck service requires enough space. As the name implies, “box trucks” are simply vehicles – trucks and vans – that flaunt box-shaped designs.

This type of food truck is preferred by many people looking to start food truck businesses, thanks to the lots of interior space it offers.

Also, box trucks are the best if your mobile food business requires large equipment setups or has a large inventory – so there’d be space for everything to fit in without issues.

There are quite different box food trucks, but the U-Haul trucks fit perfectly – the shape, space, and design make it easy for you to customize your mobile store to any style of your choice.

The U-Haul truck can contain a full kitchen set up with all the necessary utensils and equipment. A decent alternative to box trucks is cargo vans, but they cannot contain a full kitchen and other stuff you may want to add. But then, box trucks are among the costliest food trucks you can buy out there.

2. Cargo Vans

Cargo vans are common; they are the most common type of food trucks you’d find almost everywhere. There are basically vans built for carrying loads, but they can be converted into food trucks by installing specific equipment and modifying different sides of the van to match your food truck needs.

Due to the big cargo space, this type of food truck also offers decent space to have a storage room where you can stash certain items.

Cargo vans look to be the best for someone looking to launch a mobile bakery delivery service, or you wish to offer on-site cooking services. Practically, cargo vans are bigger than regular vans, which keeps them at an advantage.

Of course, cargo vans don’t come in one design or size; these things vary based on the manufacturer and model. Some notable models in the market today include RAM Promaster, Ford Transit, Freightliner MT45, and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

3. Step Vans

If you find box trucks very expensive and cargo vans to be pretty small to contain your food truck needs, you may want to consider step vans.

Step vans are pretty much bigger than cargo vans and typically priced below box trucks – so, literally, it sits between box trucks and cargo vans, which is why you may find many people using them as their food truck vehicle.

A step van is a larger van used by delivery services providers – for logistic purposes – however, it is also a decent sizable option for a food truck since it provides sufficient space to put in everything your mobile food business needs to run smoothly from location to location. Converting step vans to food trucks is pretty easy.

Step vans vary in length but are usually from 12 to 30 feet long. Some step vans are already built for food truck purposes; no need to convert them anymore.

An example of such a step van is the Chevrolet Step-Van, a 2-door multi-stop van built by General Motors between 1940 and 1999. Well, the newer models are codenamed Chevrolet P-series.

If you’ve seen FedEx and UPS delivery vans, you’ve probably seen a step van; the long length of step vans is the main qualifying factor that makes them ideal for a food truck. Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, and other notable automakers have a series of step vans you can compare and buy.

4. Food Trailers

Food trailers are usually too big, bigger than box trucks and step vans. Unlike other types of food trucks explained above, food trailers don’t look pretty much like regular vehicles. They are specially designed vehicles meant to use as food trucks – they are pretty sizable to contain your amenities and still offer a decent amount of space.

Owing to the bigger size and features, food trailers are expensive – because they come standard with food-truck-specific features, so you don’t have to do much customization.

Food trailers are best recommended when you’re looking to start a mobile restaurant business or café. You can design the kitchen as much as you want.

One of the reasons you may not want to have a food trailer is that it doesn’t offer much flexibility as other types of food trucks. You can easily drive a food trailer around as you would do a step van or cargo van.

However, that doesn’t mean that food trailers are immovable – just that most times, they are towed, not driving directly like other food trucks.

Some people build their food trailers from scratch to save cost, but this takes a long time and requires specific expertise. Well, if you can’t DIY the steps, you can hire a food trailer construction company to do that for you – you’d be saving a few grand through this means and have complete veto power over the design.

5. Buses

Yes, buses are also used as food trucks, and that includes the regular school buses, you know. Bus food trucks are customized from ordinary buses and offer a ton of space. One of the reasons why many people choose buses is because of the big space – buses are very long, which makes them a perfect choice for a mobile restaurant.

Mostly, people who use buses for food trucks buy used models and convert them into food trucks that satisfy their needs. With buses, you can have a long seating area for your customers to sit and have a nice meal.

No specific buses are used for this purpose; apparently, you can use buses from Chevrolet, Blue Bird, Ford, and other popular brands.

6. Cutaway or Pickup Truck

This type of food truck is mainly a typical pickup truck customized to feature an enclosed cab and open back. Cutaway trucks are pretty small; they won’t give you so much space to install it or set up a lot of stuff – hence, they are best if you’re offering a service that doesn’t require so much seating/equipment space.

Cutaway food trucks are practically the cheapest to set up, and you can easily drive them around the city, thanks to their small size. If you’re looking for a food truck to sell ice creams and burgers, this could be a perfect choice for you. There are no specific customization requirements; you just make it look how you want.

What’s More?

These are the various types of food trucks you can choose from; your choice depends on the type of mobile food business you want to do with the food truck and of course, your budget. Food trucks are different from recreational vehicles (RVs).


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