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Need a van for work? Here’s how to choose


Getting the right van can make your business more effective, and help you make sure you’re not spending too much on fuel.

Painter decorator stood beside a white van

Picking the right van for your business can make a big difference to your bottom line.

Whether you’re a delivery firm or an electrician, it’s important to make sure the vehicle you choose exactly matches the tasks you need it for.

The right design means you won’t be let down on important jobs – and you won’t end up spending too much on fuel for a vehicle that is bigger or more powerful than you really need.

So what should you be looking out for when you’re making your decision?

What do you want your van to do?

The first thing to look at is what your van is typically going to be needed for: ie where its load has to be delivered and the distances involved.

According to the Department for Transport (DfT), the following questions should be addressed:

What is the size / weight of the typical load? Does it need controlled temperature?

Are you carrying specialist tools or equipment? What kind of security is needed?

How will the load be accessed, for example will you need side doors? Or a tail-lift? Will the van need to carry one or more passengers?

The main way you use your van will normally fall into one of the following categories:

  • Urban delivery: this means you’ll need a model which can negotiate heavy traffic and narrow streets. It will also need to set down and pick up loads quickly, and may need access from both sides.

  • Intra-urban delivery: if you’re delivering more to retail parks and industrial estates rather than shops or restaurants, you may need a larger van (to deal with larger loads), and manoeuvrability should be less important.

  • Single-service function: this applies if your van is needed simply to move equipment and/or staff – for example for tradesmen such as builders.
    In this case, access and manoeuvrability is not so crucial, but the van should be able to carry the necessary amount of equipment.

  • Multiple-service function: as with single-service function, this van has to transport staff and equipment, but to a number of jobs within a single day for example – which could apply to plumbers or electricians.

  • It may require storage of a greater range of equipment to be used for a wide variety of jobs: this means access from the side as well as the back might be important.

Make your choice

Once you’ve worked out your needs, what makes and models should you be looking for?

  • Car-derived vans are best suited to small-load deliveries or contractors with a small amount of equipment.
    They could be the van versions of popular models such as the Vauxhall Corsa, the Ford Fiesta or the Renault Clio.

  • Microvans are more suited to larger – but not especially heavy – loads, and are ideal for driving in busy traffic and town centres. It would suit the likes of florists or firms making fresh-food deliveries. Options could be something like a Daihatsu Hijet or a Suzuki Carry.

  • Light vans such as a Ford Transit Connect or VW Caddy will take larger payloads, but are suitable for similar operations to the car-derived vans, above.

  • Panel vans, which include the hugely popular Ford Transit, and rivals like the Mercedes Sprinter, are better suited to larger deliveries or contractors such as plumbers who need to carry a substantial amount of equipment for multiple jobs.

  • Chassis cabs from manufacturers such as Ford, Citroen and Iveco allow you to build the van to your own specification if your size or other requirements can’t be met by any of the categories above.


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