Buses are big. Rolls-Royces are big. Bulldozers are big. Lorries are big. There’s big, and then there’s the biggest in the world. From the world’s toughest workhorses to the most complex vehicles ever conceived, when it comes to the world’s biggest vehicle, the contenders aren’t only huge, they are eye-watering in their size, cost and stature.
When it comes to understanding the biggest vehicles ever made, it’s worth remembering where they come from. Ever since humans have needed to get from one place to another, people have been using vehicles. The oldest known vehicles are wooden canoes from around 10,000 years ago, and there’s evidence of wheeled vehicles – probably very basic carts – being pulled by camels from around 4,000 BC.
The invention of the locomotive engine revolutionised the world of travel and by 1885, Karl Benz built and patented the world’s first automobile. Just over seventy years later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were walking on the moon.
From the dawn of time, we have strived to go faster, higher and bigger. Here are the runners and riders in the quest for the accolade of world’s biggest vehicle.
Length: 400 metres | Width: 61.5 metres | Capacity: 24,004 TEU
The Ever Alot is the largest container ship in the world and the largest sea vehicle on Earth. The world’s largest floating liquefied natural gas platform, called The Prelude, is longer – at 488 metres – but it’s a static ship.
The Ever Alot is one of three container ships built for Evergreen Marine that tops 24,000 TEU, or twenty-foot equivalent units, commonly known as shipping containers. It operates the trade routes between the Far East and Europe and its engines generate a staggering 78,584 hp.
Length: 20.6 metres | Weight: 360 tons | Power: 4,600 hp | Cost: £5 million
The BelAZ 75710 is designed for one thing only – to move huge amounts of earth and rubble. Known as the Beast of Belarus, a contender for the world’s largest land vehicle is powered by two, 65-litre diesel engines and its tyres are four metres high.
Fully loaded, the biggest production truck ever made weighs over 800 tons and is designed to service the world’s biggest mines.
Length: 11.7 metres | Width: 7.4 metres | Height: 4.9 metres | Weight: 152.6 tons
The world’s largest bulldozer – SD does actually stand for Super Dozer – isn’t quite the biggest vehicle in the world but it’s close. Made by Japanese multinational company Komatsu Ltd, the massive blade is capable of moving around 24 tons of earth in a single pass.
The behemoth bulldozer was in production between 1989 and 2012 and is powered by a 12-cylinder turbocharged engine generating a massive 1,150 hp.
Overburden Conveyor Bridge F60
Length: 502 metres | Width: 241 metres | Weight: 13,600 tons | Wheels: 760
Known colloquially as the ‘horizontal Eiffel Tower’, the Overburden Conveyor Bridge F60 is one of the largest mobile machines on the planet. The jaw-dropping dimensions of this barely believable bridge put it in silver medal position in the race to be the heaviest vehicle in the world.
It’s designed to remove overburden, the material that sits above a mine before you get to the coal or ore and it’s currently used for brown coal opencast mining in Germany. The F60 is operated by a crew of fourteen people and is powered by external electricity generating 27 MW, the equivalent of 35,000 hp.
It’s called the F60 because it can skim 60 metres of overburden and is believed to be not only the longest vehicle ever made, but the largest vehicle in the world by physical dimensions.
Length: 225 metres | Width: 46 metres | Height: 94.5 metres | Weight: 14,200 tons
Built by German industrial company TAKRAF in 1995, the Bagger 293 is the biggest vehicle in the world. It is also the heaviest vehicle ever constructed.
Technically a bucket-wheel excavator, the Bagger is designed to excavate huge amounts of earth and rubble from mine sites. The wheel itself measures over twenty-one metres in diameter – as tall as a five-storey building – and each of the eighteen buckets can hold over five tons of material.
As the buckets scoop up the earth, it is dumped onto a conveyor belt to be removed and in a single day, the Bagger 293 can remove a quite remarkable 85,000 tons of earth.