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Truck Manufacturers: What Truck Should I Buy? Which Truck Maker Is the Best?

As an owner-operator you are faced with many decisions each day on how your company will be structured. One of those decisions will be which brand of semi-truck to purchase. Owners should be sure to research thoroughly before locking into a decision. Soshaul’s rule of thumb is to not buy a Mack, because it’s a Mack; buy a Mack because you need a Mack!

Freightliner pictured above.

What things are important to know when purchasing a semi-truck?

According to the Federal Highway Association, Class 8 trucks (also known as semi-trucks) have a gross weight vehicle rating of more than 33,000 pounds. People who drive these vehicles are required to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Purchasing a semi-truck is a big decision that requires a sizeable capital investment, so you’ll want to be sure to pick a power unit that can meet your businesses’ needs. Class 8 truck manufacturers produce various types of vehicles and are known for distinguishing features that make them different from one another. You’ll want to conduct your own research to find a power unit that best fits the needs of you (the driver) and your company. It’s not enough to just choose the “best” semi-truck. You should find a truck that fits the specific needs of your company without draining resources. When sourcing a power unit or tractor, consider answering the following questions to help with your initial search:

  1. What are the requirements for the routes (long v short; mountains or plains), equipment, and freight (size; weight) that you plan to haul?

  2. Do you want an older truck or a newer truck? [if used, use caution. You don’t know the problems you’re buying!]

  3. How long do you plan to own and operate the truck?

  4. What’s your budget look like? Are you financing the purchase or paying everything up front?

  5. Do you have a knowledgeable sales rep or consultant that you can work with? [get referrals!]

  6. As an owner operator, are you skilled with repairs or will you need a nearby mechanic or dealership for service? [choose a reliable mechanic and/or dealership. get referrals!]

  7. Do the states you operate in or plan to operate in have legislation for vehicle emissions?

Truck Manufacturers

Now, let’s take a quick look at popular semi-truck manufactures on the road today.

Celebrating nearly 80 years in business, Freightliner manufactures the broadest range of trucks which can haul all range of job grades. Freightliner manufactures the Freightliner Cascadia, which is the most popular semi-truck on the highways. Freightliner holds 37% of the Class 8 market share (according to, and owner operators have indicated they like the cab space and noise reduction this company produces. Recently they have announced a commitment to 100% EV, producing the eCascadia which is an electric version of their popular semi.

One of two brands owned by PACCAR, Kenworth holds around 14% of the market share of semi-trucks. PACCAR powertrains have a reputation for being reliable and make for a good choice for long-haul, over-the-road (OTR) services. Kenworth rigs tend to be cheaper than their Peterbilt counterparts.

The other brand owned by PACCAR, Peterbilt holds another 14% market share. PACCAR has been making trucks for nearly 80 years, and Peterbilt trucks offer the most alternative fuel options. This company places emphasis on impacting fuel economy. Peterbilt offers hybrid vehicles, for example, but they’re currently not available everywhere.

As one of the oldest semi-truck manufacturers, Mack is perhaps one of the most recognized brands out there. Mack is known for their horsepower and producing vehicles which offer several features that provide driver safety. Mack has been producing vehicles since the early 1900s and still has consumers who are loyal to the Mack name. However, Mack holds less than 10 percent of the Class 8 market in the US.

Volvo controls just over 10% of the US market share for semi-truck production. They produce low-profile and aero-dynamic trucks, a style that many manufacturers now copy. Volvo manufactures their own powertrain and, since their acquisition of Mack, reviews have stated the difference is not noticeable.

This graphic below breaks down the complete market share by company for class 8 trucks in the US.

Are you interested in learning more about equipment or technology, or perhaps sales and marketing in transportation? Are you thinking about starting a trucking business, but not sure how to get started? Check out our course on How to START Your Trucking Business!

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Soshaul Logistics LLC and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. It is meant to serve as a guide and information only and Soshaul Logistics, LLC - Copyright 2023 - does not assume responsibility for any omissions, errors, or ambiguity contained herein. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction or operation.


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