Commercial Vehicle (CV) jargon buster

posted on 31/07/2023
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Need to untangle your MAM from your Tacho?

Below you can find a list of common commercial vehicle-related terms and their meanings.


The international regulations relating to the movement of dangerous goods by road. Specific regulations, licensing, authorisation, training and processes apply for these kinds of loads.

Articulated lorry

This is an HGV which is a combination of a tractor unit plus trailer.


An efficient way to maximise utilization, by booking a job to fill an empty commercial vehicle on the way back to a base/depot from another job.

A vehicle’s towing capacity is split into two figures:

Braked weight’ is the maximum weight it can tow if the trailer being towed has its own independent brakes.

Unbraked weight’ is the maximum weight it can tow if the trailer being towed doesn’t have its own brakes.

The partition that sits between the cabin and rear interior of a van, usually metal with a grille or window fitted.


This is what you start with before a converter fits the required body to a commercial vehicle (e.g. drop-sides, refrigerated units or Luton boxes)

This is a 4-7-seat van incorporating a second row of seats to the rear, meaning that it can be used to transport both people and goods.


These are designed for easy access, with an open top and side which can drop down for direct access to the loading area.

Direct Vision Standard.

This is a star rating system, reflecting how much an HGV driver can see through their cab windows (in particular, in relation to nearby pedestrians and cyclists). Vehicles with a low DVS may have to fit additional ‘Safe Systems’ in order to be allowed to drive in some areas, including Greater London.


These are wooden pallets used for storage and transporting of goods. These are always 1,200mm x 800mm and so are used by some manufacturers to describe the loadable space in a commercial vehicle.


These have a flat, open cargo area, often used for transporting oversized or irregularly shaped items. Popular in the construction industry where loads may not need protection from the elements.

See our guide to Commercial Vehicle typesSee our guide to Commercial Vehicle types


Gross Vehicle Weight (see MAM)


These are height categories of commercial vehicles, usually in relation to roof height. A higher number = a taller vehicle.  These vary between manufacturers. 

Often used in combination with L1/L2/L3.


This is the weight of a vehicle without passengers or loads (but with a full tank of fuel/battery).

Sometimes also called ‘Unladen Weight’.


These are length categories of commercial vehicles, usually in relation to wheelbase. A higher number = a longer vehicle. These vary between manufacturers. Often used in combination with H1/H2/H3.

This is the amount of space available for goods.

Light Commercial Vehicle.

In the UK, this means any commercial vehicle with a MAM below 3.5 tonnes.

Large Goods Vehicle/Heavy Goods Vehicle.

In the UK, this means any commercial vehicle with a MAM above 3.5 tonnes.

These include a body that extends over the cab, maximising storage compared to box vans.

See our guide to Commercial Vehicle typesSee our guide to Commercial Vehicle types


Maximum Authorised Mass (sometimes called Gross Vehicle Weight or GVW).

This is the maximum weight of a vehicle or trailer (including load) that is allowed to be carried when being used on the road. This will be listed in the vehicle manual and on a plate/sticker on the vehicle.

Vehicles with higher MAMs may require a driver to have a specific category of driving licence to legally operate.


This is the weight (of both passengers and load) that a commercial vehicle is legally allowed to carry. Calculated by subtracting the kerb weight from the MAM/GVW.


These are shelf/storage units fitted inside a van (e.g. for storing tools).

These (sometimes called ‘reefers’) contain refrigeration units for transporting temperature-sensitive loads such as food or medicines.

See our guide to Commercial Vehicle typesSee our guide to Commercial Vehicle types

This is a vehicle where the tractor and trailer are part of a single rigid structure (in contrast to an articulated vehicle).


This is a device fitted to a commercial vehicle to track speed, time and distance travelled to ensure drivers and employers follow the rules on drivers’ hours. Mandatory for vehicles/drivers who are driving under EU or AETR rules.

This is a hydraulic platform on the rear of a van allowing goods/passengers to be lifted from the floor to the vehicle bed.


This is the weight of a vehicle when not carrying passengers, goods, fuel or batteries.


Vehicle Excise Duty.

This is commonly known as ‘Road Tax’. Rates for Light Commercial Vehicles vary by Euro Emissions standard, vehicle age and engine size.

Electric vans pay a zero/lower-rate vs petrol or diesel vans.


A mandatory recorded vehicle check, which commercial vehicle drivers must complete pre-trip on any day the vehicle is being used.

Worldwide harmonised Light vehicle Test Procedure.

This is the current test used to measure a vehicle’s fuel consumption and emissions.


Zero Emission Vehicle.

This is a vehicle that doesn’t emit any tailpipe pollutants

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