HGV 101

The HGV, also called a lorry or LGV, has evolved significantly from its original form as a Heavy goods vehicle. These are used greatly in the transporting of mass materials, products and equipment.

Whether you have extensive knowledge about these vehicle categories, or if you are looking to become an HGV driver, but want to know more about the vehicles you may be training/driving, HGV 101 covers the history of where trucks derived from, and how they are differentiated from other vehicle types.

History of the HGV

The invention of the Heavy Goods Vehicle

Trucks are argued to be the ancestor of the steam-powered fardier. Built in 1769 by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, these steam wagons did not become popular until the mid-1800s. Steam powered vehicles were sold in other countries, such as France and United States until World War 1.

The first lorry was built by Gottlieb Daimler. In 1896, he built the Daimler Motor Lastwagen. The engine consisted of a 1.4 litre four-stroke phoenix.

The top speed of the Lastwagen was 12kmph, with a 1500kg payload.

The first purchase of the first truck was sold to a British motor syndicate in London. The purchase price was approximately 5,200 marks (approximately £2,314 as of today). This was the turning point regarding the evolution of the heavy goods vehicle.

Prior to this in 1885, Daimler had developed the first liquid petroleum vehicle. This was at the same time Karl Benz had developed the first “purpose-built automobile, using a 2-cylinder engine.” This was of his own design. However, Daimler filed for violation of his 1883 patent on the “hot tube ignition”. After winning the legal battle, Daimler’s business, DMG, was rewarded royalties from benz & Cie.

Years after Daimlers death, both companies came to an amicable agreement to merge. The new company was names Daimler-Benz AG, more commonly known as Mercedes Benz.

Invention of the pneumatic tyre

The 1888 invention of air-filled tyres from John Boyd Dunlop also helped with the comfort of driving. Although the invention was already patented in 1846 by Robert Thomson. He invented the first vulcanised rubber inflatable tyre. When these new tyres came onto the market, they were originally for bicycles, but the tyres increased comfort of driving, so they were then designed for motor vehicles.

This came at a crucial time of development for road transport. The production of the car tyres did not begin until 1900.


How Motor Vehicles Aided War Efforts

To truly understand the relevance larger goods vehicles had on the world wars in the early-mid 1900s, you need to understand how they were utilised. There were only a handful of manufactures  in this time. But they helped supply an array of motor vehicles to aid in the war efforts.

For example, Austin Motors produced utility vehicles and 2 tonne trucks, which were typically transformed to be used as ambulances. Ford Motors also produced 3 tonne cargo trucks. Many other larger goods vehicles were also adapted as recovery vehicles.

This highlighted how the HGVs could be adapted for specific requirements. A crucial moment in time such as the war helped to solidify the versatility of the use of vehicles.

The manufacturing of the first truck, along with the invention of the pneumatic tyres and the adaptation of HGVS during the world wars to help in the efforts helped distinguish the evolution of the heavy goods vehicle, to how we see them today.

Although understanding the journey of the HGV, it must be highlighted how the modern design in benefiting the longevity and quality of the vehicles.

The Design of an HGV

  1. 2 Axle- maximum gross weight of over 3.5 tonne
  2. Bigger 2 axle- maximum gross weight of over 7.5 tonne
  3. Multi-axle- typically either rigid or articulates. These vehicles can have up to six axles. The maximum gross weight is between 25-44 tonnes.
    1. Rigid means that the trailer cannot be detached, as it is fixed on the vehicle.
    2. Articulated means that the trailer is detachable. This means that as these are two separate parts, the articulated vehicle will typically have a bend.

Other than those three different types, there is still similar differences between these. Typically, the “cabin” of the vehicle is independent of the trailer portion of the vehicle.

There are different types/categories of HGV.

Larger Good Vehicle Types
C13.5 tonne-7.5 tonne2
COver 7.5 tonne-18 tonne2
D13.5 tonne-7.5 tonne2
C+E18 tonne-44 tonnes3-6
Trailer Training UK Articulated LGV Lorry

Benefits of Larger Goods Vehicles

Cost Reduction on Transporting Goods

The size of the trailer (rigid or articulated) helps to transport bulk goods to other businesses. This depends on whether this is goods for one business, or multiple smaller organisations.

This not only saves cost on fuel, but also manpower. One job can essentially be completed by one or two drivers (depending on the length of the journey, as well as the change overs which may occur.)

Furthering this, the UK has been trialling longer semi-trailers. This is in the effort to save costs and fuel by increasing the length of the trailer by 2.05 metres. You can find out about the trial on the government website. You can also read all questions and answers on the following document- Longer semi-trailer trial: questions and answers.

Training and Compliance is Thorough

Although an obscure benefit, to become an HGV driver, you must complete all training requirements. These requirements are typically at a high standard. Not to mention that to drive for hire or reward, you must complete 35 hours of CPC (certificate of professional competence) training every five years to stay compliant will all regulations.

The training is thorough, but maintaining your licence for the vehicle category is just as exhaustive. This keeps all drivers safe, thus limiting the risk of an incident occurring in house or on road.

Different HGVs for Different Goods

When working in logistics, you will typically be transporting goods for many locations. The types of goods can differ. From standard hardware supplies, such as wood, to chilled products. Many HGVs have been designed to help regulate temperature, aerate the trailer, or even be proofed for dangerous goods.

These factors ensure the products or materials are kept in top standard upon arrival. This also limits the risk of the driver being in danger (in relation to dangerous goods).

truck in the dark with lights on

Limitations of Larger Goods Vehicles

Speed Restrictions

Due to the size of the vehicle, HGVs have slower speed limits. Being restricted to 60mph on motorways and 50mph on dual carriageways can frustrate other road users. Thus, becoming impatient and performing dangerous manoeuvres to overtake you. This could make the driver of the HGV more anxious/concerned when driving on roads.

Higher Maintenance Costs

Due to the size of the vehicle, there are more intricate components. When any of these parts break down or are damaged, this can take the vehicle out of action until it has been fixed. Not only does the repair cost more, but the longer the vehicle is out of service, the longer it is not being used for the transport of goods.

This can further increase labour costs. Prior to a larger goods vehicle heading out to complete a job, daily walk around checks must be completed. This is to ensure that everything on, or in the vehicle, is in working order and not damaged.

The goods in an HGV could be damaged in the event of the vehicle breaking down. The business could then have to potentially pay out. This means more unwanted costs for the business.

Currently Limited to Petrol/Diesel Fuel

As the net zero strategy is beginning to be planned and implemented, it is argued that there is more of a need to transition HGVs to become alternatively fuelled. However, we are far off from this becoming a reality.

The issue with larger vehicles is that they need more power to help carry the weight/load. This means that the larger vehicles would need bigger/better batteries than a standard electric car.

Electric vehicles are expensive as they are, so electric powered HGVs are going to be more expensive. In short, businesses do not have the money to purchase a fleet of electric powered vehicles.

Not only this, but batteries could run out of charge mid-journey, and as electric powered vehicles are new, there are only a handful of specialists who can repair electric powered HGVS, as well as smaller payloads.

Fossil fuels are expected to run out by 2060, so the sooner electric/alternatively powered HGVs have been made affordable and more indestructible, the better. There are already efforts being made into trialling the use of electric powered HGVs, but there is still a way to go.

HGVs- Your Future?

Although HGVs have come a long way from where it once was, there is still a wonder if larger vehicles will still be relevant. As the world progresses with the advancement of technology, improvement of delivery schedules and cleaner energy, there is an inkling that HGVs are on a different path. Advancements to the HGV is not as fruitful as other modes of transportation.

Nevertheless, the sector in which larger vehicles are used is an industry which is relied upon. To ensure that goods, products and materials arrive at the given premise in time, drivers across the country will travel for hours to make good time.

This is why many businesses are still pressing to many individuals to become an HGV driver and obtain your HGV licence. While there is a steady influx of learners, there is still a demand in late 2023 for more driver to be hitting the roads.

Although the skills bootcamps are in place, it can take up to two years to even begin training. In which, for some, it is too long to wait.

That is why the time to book your HGV training is now. An investment that will benefit you tenfold in the years to come. You could become the backbone of the logistics sector.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Provisional?

After completing your D4 medical, you can then apply for your provisional licence either by post or online.

It will take you, at most, three to six weeks to get your provisional licence. However, this can take longer, depending on your medical conditions, as these would be reviewed before you gain your provisional.

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