U.S. Xpress is adding smaller capacity vehicles in response to customer demand for greater shipping flexibility.

The Chattanooga, Tenn.-based company has expanded its Xpress Direct Demand Critical fleet to include smaller capacity vehicles, including cargo vans and straight trucks. The company is presently operating nearly 30 of these vans and trucks and plans to have 150-200 in use by mid-year 2012.

While Xpress Direct has been in the demand critical space since 2004, the company decided to begin operating cargo vans and straight trucks in response to a recent large customer acquisition and overall market demands for greater flexibility.

The primary service areas for the new equipment are the Midwest and Southeast, an area generally defined as east of Interstate 35 and west of Interstate 81.

The cargo vans and straight trucks used are generally 22-24 feet long, with cargo vans carrying a maximum payload of 3,500 pounds and straight trucks carrying 13,000 pounds.

"With the addition of this new equipment, U.S. Xpress is now able to manage all of our customers' time-critical shipments, from one small box all the way up to a full truckload," said Bob Poulos, vice president, sales and marketing.

The primary industries U.S. Xpress is presently serving with these vehicles are automotive and heavy truck, but the company sees major opportunities in the consumer and life science sectors.