Deciding to start a mobile ice cream business is exciting but there are so many factors to consider before you hit the road. One of them is the type of vehicle you would like to use for your ice cream truck business.
Any van with sufficient headspace can be converted into an ice cream truck. The older and more distinctive a design the more original it is. The drivers select a van based on their preferences which could include room for standing, storage space, and the condition of the vehicle.
Ice cream trucks require an ample amount of space to store the necessary equipment from the freezers to the cups and spoons to serve the ice cream. Plus, you need to select a truck that is easy to maneuver and drive around the route you design.
Here are some vehicles that you can consider buying for your future ice cream truck business.
7 Different Kinds of Trucks Ice Cream Trucks Use
#1 Classic Ice Cream Truck
Ice cream trucks are the most beloved part of childhood memories and nobody can entirely forget the nostalgic sound of the ice cream truck song. The first-ever ice cream truck was from the company Good Humor. They built their ice cream trucks using conventional pickup trucks.
In the 1950s, the classic ice cream truck was a Chevrolet 3100, followed by Ford F-100 in the 1960s.
However, by the 1970s, they started to sell out their ice cream trucks to independent vendors.
It is said that only a few of those classic trucks have survived. One can still attempt to find the old-school Good Humor’s classic ice cream truck on eBay.
» This could also be something for you: Are Ice Cream Trucks Independent or Self-employed?
#2 Cargo Van
A cargo van is a popular choice for food trucks in general. This is because they are one of the cheapest options available for a food truck. If you are someone who wants to start an ice cream truck business, a cargo van will work for you.
No matter what type of ice cream truck you want, a soft serve, scooping truck, or a pre-packaged ice cream truck, a cargo van is ideal since it can easily be converted into an ice cream truck after a few modifications.
Cargo vans have enough space to hold all your ice cream truck equipment. Cargo vans can hold refrigerators, built-in generators, soft-serve ice cream machines, sinks, heaters, etc.
#3 Step Vans
A step van is a much larger option for any mobile food service business. It’s ideal for ice cream trucks since it has a vast space to work in along with the equipment it holds. Step vans are about 12 to 30 feet in length.
Step vans are widely used by linen, parcel, and bread delivery businesses since they provide ample space to move around and do tasks. Due to its popularity, you can easily find a step van converted into an ice cream truck.
Since step vans have a lot of space, you can modify the step van according to your workspace, storage space, and ventilation.
One can easily turn a step van into an ice cream truck by getting a window cut and installing all the required equipment an ice cream truck needs such as freezers, soft serve machines (if selling soft serve), generators, water pumps, heater, shelves, and sinks.
#4 Box Truck
The name speaks for itself, a box truck is a rectangular or ‘box-shaped’ truck with a separate cab. These trucks also have a lot of space inside and are used for businesses that need to transport bulk items most of the time.
People even refer to them as giant moving boxes. Because of their huge size, they are widely used for mobile food services as well. These are ideal if you plan on serving all kinds of ice cream or other items along with them.
These trucks also provide an ample amount of space so one can set up all the necessary equipment and any type of appliances inside which a cargo van doesn’t allow. Whereas, a box truck can provide you with plenty of space to move around and work.
Overall, if you plan on selling other items along with ice cream, go for a box truck. The only downside is, box trucks are quite expensive compared to step vans or cargo vans.
» You can also read my post: How To Get More Box Truck Contracts
#5 Food Trailer
A food trailer provides all the features an ice cream truck or mobile food service needs. However, it is the most expensive option for a food truck.
Food trailers are ideal for any type of setup you want for your ice cream truck. You can even set up a little kitchenette inside. These trucks have enough space for storing your goods as well as installing all the necessary equipment an ice cream truck requires.
Apart from that, a food trailer can be built from scratch. If you have the budget and the time, you can modify it and have complete control over the design and features you want for your ice cream truck.
However, food trailers are very big and not maneuverable as compared to a van or a truck. Therefore, you may need to find a specific spot to park it for the whole day and serve ice cream there.
If you plan on driving your ice cream truck around the city, a food trailer might not be the best option.
#6 Cutaway or Pickup Truck
A cutaway or pickup truck has an enclosed cab or an open back. The back part of these trucks can be used for transporting cargo, but these can also be converted into food trucks.
They seem unusual, but if you look closely at the food trucks around your neighborhood, you will notice some might even be cutaway trucks. These trucks are widely used by mobile food services, which is why it’s a great option for an ice cream truck as well.
A cutaway truck doesn’t have as much space as a box truck or food trailer, but they still have enough room for you to get creative and modify according to your preferences.
These trucks are smaller than box trucks, hence they are easy to maneuver. Cutaway trucks are also much more affordable than food trailers or box trucks.
A bus is often used for mobile businesses. Buses can offer ample space so one can set up a full kitchen with all the necessary equipment. However, for an ice cream truck, one can turn it into a small ice cream cafe on wheels.
Buses can be modified to have storage space for the ice cream as well as a small sitting area for customers with an attractive ambiance. A bus for an ice cream truck is a unique idea and will attract as many bystanders as possible.
The only downside is that a bus is not quite maneuverable, thus one needs to park it somewhere for the whole day.
However, if the bus has a sitting arrangement, one doesn’t need to drive it around much since it will be full of customers at all times.
Other Vehicle Options
There are some other vehicle options like RVs, planes, and even boats, that are converted into food trucks.
However, these options are less common and overly expensive for an ice cream business, but they do stand out and add a unique aura to the business.
How Much Does An Ice Cream Truck Cost?
The cost of an ice cream truck depends highly upon the type of ice cream one is intending to sell, but most conventional trucks cost around $30,000 to $60,000. Four-wheeled ice cream trucks can be found as low as $10,000 in price.
» I have covered more on this subject in this blog post: How Much Does an Ice Cream Truck Cost: Getting Started
Final Thoughts on Different Trucks Ice Cream Trucks Use
Now that you know what different options you can consider for your ice cream truck business, you just need to decide which one suits your requirements and invest in that one. You need to consider what type of ice cream you want to sell, as well as your route.
If you intend to sell scooped ice cream and drive from place to place, then a small cargo van might just be enough for you. Whereas if you want to sell soft serve ice cream along with other frozen items then a box truck is ideal for you.