Why European Trucks Are Flat? (The Reasons With Pros/Cons)

Last Updated on January 17, 2023 by Leepu Da Maxim

As part of European policy, transport ministers used the German model to harmonize lorry sizes. The maximum length was increased to 16.5 meters, but this was the maximum length for the entire vehicle. The flat-nosed lorries in Europe are a result of this choice.

Key Takeaways

  • The flat design of the European trucks provides 180° visibility by reducing blind spots
  • Cabover trucks are more popular in Europe than in other parts of the world
  • The industries that manufacture American trucks are very dominant in the U.S. market therefore, European trucks are not popular in the USA
  • American trucks are more powerful than European trucks because these trucks are designed for use in a variety of different purposes

How are European Flat Trucks Different Than American Trucks? (The Differences With Pros & Cons)

Flat Trucks are a more practical solution for the world of transportation. They can be used on almost any surface and are rather lighter than American trucks.

MetricsEuropean TrucksAmerican Trucks
Advantages1. Provide 180° visibility by reducing blind spots  
2. They have a higher level of fuel efficiency  
3. They offer safer and more reliable driving in different road situations
1. Provide a higher level of safety for the driver  
2. Produce greater power at all times  
3. Engine life is longer than European trucks
Disadvantages1. The driver has a lower level of protection and safety during the trip
2. The interior comfort level is lower than other truck models  
3. Not so convenient for long-distance travel
1. Higher fuel consumption of cab-over trucks  
2. Reduced visibility to other trucks  
3. In general, they are more expensive than European trucks
Why European Trucks Are Flat

Why Does Europe Use Cabover Trucks?

Here, it is important to consider that cargo vans can present a set of benefits when used massively. On the one hand, the distance between the different axles is different in comparison to the trucks used in the United States. Of course, this modifies the rest of the functionalities that any transport truck must have.

Here, it is necessary to consider that there are no longer any companies in the United States that manufacture the truck used in Europe. Both the braking system and the other components of American trucks are not compatible with European trucks. So this does not encourage European trucks to be manufactured in the United States.

On the contrary, this is the same situation as in Europe for cab-over trucks. Here, the vast majority of the industries that manufacture trucks offer only these types of vehicles. This is why typical American trucks are not used in Europe either. Beyond that, European trucks can adapt to the distances they have to cover in Europe.

Also, it should be borne in mind that most roads in Europe can only be used by medium-sized trucks. If US trucks were to be used in Europe, this would be a little difficult. In the same vein, European lorries are also prepared to reduce costs and road accidents in general.

Why Is Cabover Trucks No Longer Manufactured?

At the time when cab-over trucks started to become famous, it was due to a set of regulations regarding the length of the vehicle. In particular, each of these regulations required that trailers and trucks have a length of up to 65 feet as a maximum limit.

However, this regulation, which was created in 1956, does not last to this day as it has been amended. Thus, in 1976 new regulations were created giving trucks an additional 10 feet in length. So, this modified the new trucks that were manufactured from that year onwards.

So, it was quite common to find these types of trucks due to compliance with the regulations. Beyond that, today the regulations have changed and there is no longer a certain limit to the length of these vehicles. However, it is necessary to consider the advantages of the cab-over-engine truck over today’s modern platforms.

1.Type Of Maneuverability: Any Cabover truck driver mentioned that it was a very simple vehicle to drive at all times. In fact, in moments of heavy traffic or backing up at the loading docks this vehicle gave good results.

In particular, the advantage was usually found in the fact that the main axle of this truck was much smaller than other models. So, this allowed the vehicle to be much safer to use. In turn, each of the drivers could count on a higher level of reaction on the road.

2. Level Of Visibility: One of the main advantages of this type of truck is based on the visibility a driver can obtain. Specifically, the fact that the cabin is above the engine allows the driver to increase his driving skills.

In this case, the driver will be able to obtain a more precise 180° vision. Of course, this feature allows for the reduction and elimination of many blind spots found on other types of trucks.

3. Efficiency Level: Here the third important point to consider in these trucks is the efficiency level concerning the other vehicles. This level of efficiency in Europe has managed to surpass many semi-trailers that are manufactured in the United States. Without a doubt, this is a great advantage that manages to lower overall fuel costs.

However, it is also necessary to mention some disadvantages according to the opinion of many experts in the area. This will make it easier to understand why they have been discontinued.

4. Types Of Disadvantages: Here, one of the most common disadvantages had to be suffered by long-distance drivers. Therefore, the use of the bunk was not the most convenient due to the design deficiency in this respect. This could produce some obstacles if the driver was driving.

5. Safety Level: Generally, the level of protection and safety of the drivers of Cabover trucks are lower than other types of vehicles. Of course, this is a considerable disadvantage, as the integrity of each driver is exposed to greater risk. On the contrary, those trucks with a conventional design and a long hood offer higher protection for the drivers.

6. Travel Discomfort: In principle, according to many experienced truck drivers, the axles were the reason for many problems. Here, the short wheelbase of the truck produced a certain level of discomfort during the journey. This is undoubtedly a considerable disadvantage for most drivers

European Trucks Image.jpg

Why Are There No European Trucks In The USA?

In short, we can mention that in the United States there is not a great demand for typical European trucks. In turn, the industries that manufacture American trucks are very dominant in the U.S. market. There was a Scania company that tried to gain some ground in the 1980s and 1990s.

However, this did not work out well because of the preponderance of semi-trailer vehicles. On the other hand, a set of regulations over cab-over trucks also allowed this situation. Here, the restrictions regarding length played against it and allowed U.S. industries to finish dominating the market.

Are American Trucks More Powerful Than Europeans?

Each of these trucks has a different design and therefore a different functionality. Besides, both American and European trucks can provide a host of advantages. This is why cab-over-engine trucks are widely used in Europe.

Here, it is important to mention that trucks that are manufactured in the United States often offer greater power than European competition. European trucks also can provide greater driving comfort. That is why the largest truck fleets in Europe are cab-over-engine trucks.

Why Is A Truck Called A Semi?

In particular, it is necessary to note that the word semi relates to the full term semi-trailer. When we analyze any semi-trailer it is easy to notice that it is a box for transporting objects, which has a rear axle. Here, the front axle is not included since it must be attached to the truck that functions as a tractor.

In turn, this design of the truck and the semi-trailer allows for a set of benefits in general. In other words, the truck must not always operate with the hitch and the load it is carrying. When this does not happen, the truck can be driven without the rear load, which allows for lower maintenance and fuel costs.

What Is The Life Expectancy Of A Semi-Truck?

It is important to consider that the life of the engines of these vehicles is not the same in comparison to cars and other similar vehicles. Therefore, the level of technology and engineering applied to a truck is much higher than that applied to any car. This technology is necessary because trucks are responsible for transporting very heavy loads.

Of course, the engines of semi-trailers are not eternal, since they fulfill a certain life cycle. With this, the average lifespan of these vehicles can reach 750,000 miles. This is more than convenient to provide a high level of productivity to many industries.

However, it has also been known that there are some models of semi-trailers that can offer more than a million miles. Here, we must consider that most of these vehicles must travel in a whole year about 45,000 miles. Therefore, taking this average into account we can mention that a semi-trailer truck can offer approximately 16 years of useful life.


In Europe, trucks are flat-nosed and shoulder-mounted. It is easy to see why this change is a good thing for European Trucks as it improves aerodynamics and fuel efficiency while improving comfort levels on long-haul routes.

However, this also means that in Europe there are few local manufacturers of pickup trucks equipped with the right equipment to handle shoulder-mounted engines:

The main reason is that they can be fitted with a wide range of equipment, including air-conditioning, safety systems, and even autopilot.