Payload is the total amount of cargo contained in a vehicle in the course of one trip, and may even include passengers. It may also be defined as the maximum weight which a vehicle is able to carry. Bottom line: Payload is the portion of cargo which actually brings in revenue.

For many shipping companies, payload is a matter of weight, regardless of what kind of item is being shipped. Therefore, when shipping different kinds of goods together, it may be important to determine which products to prioritize. In order to ship more of a certain type, the quantity of other goods will have to be compromised.

Different manufacturers may use different specifications when computing for payload. Some base payload on the vehicle and the driver. Others may make provisions for the maximum number of occupants.

In cases wherein the variable used by the manufacturer are unclear, it may be useful to first determine the GVWR, or gross vehicle weight rating, as well as the vehicle’s curb weight, and then get the difference between the two. It is important to ensure that the weight of passengers, if any, combined with the actual cargo does not exceed this figure.