There is a clear trend for major truck manufacturers to expand outside their traditional “home markets,” and it appears almost inevitable that a global truck industry will eventually become a reality. It is therefore of interest to speculate whether such global manufacturers will be able to serve world markets with a single product line, i.e., a world truck.
This paper examines the factors that have brought about variations in the form and function of trucks (3.5 tons and up) in different regions of the world, as well as the trends toward convergence (or lack thereof) of these design variations that are now taking place.
The factors that appear to have influenced variation and which are considered here include: historical development, source of vehicles (manufacturing base), regulations, geography, technology, and special market factors.
The main sources of trucks for the world are analyzed to bring into focus the strong influence of a few highly developed countries in three major areas that manufacture (and consume) the largest share of world production.
The actual physical/design differences among trucks from the three major manufacturing areas are enumerated and compared, and related to differences in regulations regarding weight, size, power, etc. An examination of the trends in truck design in the three major producing areas reveals that the differences are actually decreasing, i.e., that designs are actually converging.
The implications of these findings for global truck manufacturers are examined next, from which some strategic lessons are derived.
Although important differences remain, key truck concepts are converging throughout the world for many of the same reasons that have made passenger car designs more similar. Although truck manufacturers can not yet cover worldwide markets with a single product line, this study suggests that if proper attention is paid to the original design of the vehicle, and the right options are incorporated, such coverage might be possible with as few as two product lines.