Industry Insights

CUSTOM VS PRE-BODIED TRUCKS

You’re in the market for a new truck or a new fleet, and one of your first points of call is looking at options for cabs and matching bodies.

Your first option: purchase a cab-chassis and have the body custom made and fitted by a specialist truck body builder.

And option two?

Buy a truck that is pre-built and pre-bodied in the factory, that you can drive away.

Making the decision between the two depends on a wide range of factors, including how quickly you need the truck, the work you need it for, budget, and of course, personal preference. Weighing up the pros and cons of each can always help narrow down this tough decision—and make sure you end up with a truck you’ll enjoy working with for years down the track.

Custom cool: pros and cons

For applications that require industry-specific modifications, there’s no getting around the need for a custom designed truck—waste and emergency trucks, large crane trucks and concrete agitators, just to name a few.

But if you’re working in an industry that doesn’t necessarily require these speciality modifications, what are some of the advantages of building a custom truck?

Pros:

  • A custom work truck can be built to offer the best access to your cargo, tools, or machinery, which can help your business run efficiently.
  • If you work with cargo or equipment that is not a great fit for standard size trays or bodies, a custom-built truck can give you flexibility for going wider, longer, or deeper to better suit your loads.
  • If your cargo or equipment is unusually heavy or oddly weighted (a large crane, for example), it can impact a truck’s centre of gravity—and this is a situation that a custom-built truck can help avoid.
  • Want to look different from the competition? Think custom trays, custom beds, racks, ramps, vans, roll-offs, bumpers, toolboxes, curtains, colour… the list goes on.


Cons:

  • The 12-week wait (or longer) to have your custom truck ready for use can have an impact on your earning potential.
  • Extra expenses for unique specifications can be significant and can end up being more expensive to maintain and repair over the long run.
  • Ongoing vehicle insurance costs may vary, depending on the specifications of the custom build.
  • If you run into any complications with parts or componentry, you could be dealing with multiple companies for warranty replacements and repair (and further unexpected costs).

Pre-bodied practical: pros and cons

Quality manufacturers in the Australian market offer a wide range of pre-built and pre-bodied trucks, from trucks with trays all the way through to tippers and even tautliners.

For many trades, including plumbers, electricians, landscapers, civil services, or freight and distribution, a smartly specified pre-bodied truck can be equally or even more suitable for use than a custom-built cousin.

According to recent research into Australia’s transport industry about 65 per cent of businesses now believe it’s more important to have new trucks pre-built and ready to work, rather than having a custom-built truck.

Pros:

  • Whether you’re launching a new business venture or replacing a truck in an existing fleet, having vehicles off the road for extended periods of time can have an impact on your ability to work and earn income. With a pre-bodied truck, you can buy and drive away (given the dealership has stock on hand).
  • Good truck brands and dealerships will offer a wide range of pre-bodied models, with different configurations and in some cases, industry-specific features, meaning there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find a truck to suit your trade or business.
  • Pre-bodied trucks that are built to industry specifications can help meet Chain of Responsibility (CoR) obligations… without any extra fuss.
  • Finance and insurance for a pre-bodied truck can be easier to organise, as there are usually no additional costs to factor into the price (excluding extra mods of course).
  • If you run into any complications with parts and componentry, you’ll likely be dealing with only the manufacturer, or the manufacturer’s preferred local body builder.
  • Standard configurations in body and cab can be helpful for businesses with multiple drivers, making training and truck-swapping easier.

Cons:

  • If you’re in an industry that requires you to work in a very specific way, a pre-built truck could be limiting and could mean that you do not operate as efficiently as you’d like.
  • Your options and flexibility for body type are also limited to the manufacturer’s pre-built model range.

Summing it up

So, will your next truck be custom or pre-bodied? The decision is more personal than a pros and cons list, but we hope you’ve found some useful points to take away.

Many operators find pre-bodied trucks can meet their business needs without the wait times or research that can go with designing a custom truck. Greater consistency in aspects like tool storage, standard pallet sizes and improved awareness around typical fleet use cases are also leading to the growing popularity of pre-bodied trucks.

With the current challenge of finding experienced drivers, it’s also worth considering the advantages of equipment that can be easily operated—or if your application allows—driven on a standard car licence. In this case, pre-bodied trucks with auto or Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) that come in under the 4.5-tonne GVM mark may be an attractive option.

That being said, there’s just no going past a truly unique, custom designed truck that can tackle a job while looking a million bucks!

Want to get more bang for buck out of your work truck? Ready our blog on this here.

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