A Luton van is a form of box van whereby the body often extends over the cab area thus providing extra storage space. Some of the newer Luton vans now have a rounded section over the cab area which isn’t available as storage space but does make the van more aerodynamic, cutting down on wind resistance and therefore making the van more fuel efficient. Lutons have a thin shell made from reinforced plastic/fibreglass which is very strong and extremely lightweight, making the van much lighter than panel vans of the same size.
Luton vans are the main choice for many delivery companies because the vans are light weight and offer a large storage area that is easily accessible either via twin rear doors or a roller shutter door. They are also the favourite choice of furniture removals companies who may be expected to carry anything from boxes of lightweight ornaments to fridges, cookers and settees. Lugging a heavy cooker or settee up onto a van is no easy task which is another reason why lutons are so perfect, as they come in a variety of configurations to suit such demands. The conventional Luton is the standard van height off the ground and would require a number of able bodied men to be able load heavy goods onto the van. Fortunately Lutons are available with tail lifts that can carry loads of up to 500kg, which means that the load can be carried by trolley and lifted mechanically cutting down on the manpower required for the job. The only downside of having a tail lift fitted is that due to that weight of the lifting equipment the van will have a slight reduction in loading capacity of around 250kg.
There are also low loading Lutons available where the van has a loading height of just 550mm from the floor and should this prove a problem a ramp can be fitted for those very heavy jobs. Having the ability to just step up into the van makes the loading/unloading time for the van much quicker than having to use a tail lift.
Like most vans, luton’s come in a range of wheelbase lengths where a long wheelbase combined with a flat floor provides a large flat loading area which is often plywood lined. This provides the ideal platform for garden centres to load their plants, trees, bags of compost and other items for delivery. It also provides an ideal form of transportation for wedding suppliers and the entertainment industry that both have to transport multiple boxes or containers with equipment inside.
Most van manufacturers have their own model of Luton with some of the more popular models being the Ford Transit, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Citroen Relay, VW Crafter, LDV Maxus, Iveco Daily and Fiat Ducato. All of these vans come with a reasonable spec and like most modern vans are pretty reliable with good engines that if looked after will see the van through a long life. When it comes to choosing a Luton like most things in life cost will be the biggest deciding factor LDV offers the cheapest alternative while Mercedes are the most expensive. With the Mercedes Sprinter and Volkswagen Crafter you pay extra for the badge but get a very high build quality which in turn reflects in the vans handling, performance and reliability. The Ford Transit doesn’t have as high a price tag but does provide a very reliable van which is why it’s so popular. Because the higher end vans like Mercedes, VW and Transit offer good reliability they consequently hold their prices in the second hand market and are therefore more sought after.
Another factor that may influence the purchasing decision is the engine, while many of the vans may have a similar size engine they will likely have a range of PS options. The higher the PS the more powerful the engine which becomes more important if the van is likely to be carrying heavy loads up hilly roads on a regular basis. The lower end of the engine spectrum is the LDV Maxus with 90ps and the most powerful are the Mercedes Sprinter vans with 129PS and the Transit Lutons with up to 140PS.