In the following guide, you will find clear and concise information relating to commercial vehicles, including why they are used and what types are good.
What is a commercial vehicle?
A commercial vehicle is a type of vehicle which has the specificity of facilitating the transport of goods for often professional purposes. From a legislative point of view, a commercial vehicle is a vehicle that remains below 3.5 tonnes. However, there are different regulations depending on the type of vehicle. There are also things known as light commercial vehicles also. These may include trailers that are used for transporting goods.
Different types of light commercial vehicles are available: commercial utility cars with a body identical to that of passenger cars, but whose rear seats have been removed to accommodate up to 1 m³ of goods.
- Vans (such as the Peugeot Partner or the Renault Kangoo), whose monocoque structure allows the loading of a large volume of goods (up to 4 m³)
- Vans that users can convert to optimize functionality and convenience; chassis cabs with 3 seats, or 6 seats and a chassis that can accommodate a tipper or a large volume box.
What are commercial vehicles used for?
There are many ways to use a commercial vehicle. Commercial vehicles are highly prized for their large storage space and large transport capacity. They are used in business to move, store or deliver goods. They advantageously replace a private car in this task. Its size makes driving more complicated in the city, and it is also more complicated to park for the same reasons. In addition, it is too large for the use of a private individual, who will rarely have enough to carry to specifically need it. This makes it a complementary vehicle, which is better to rent or borrow than to own. Some student associations invest in a small commercial van or vehicle too.
Different types of commercial vehicles
A distinction can be made between two types of commercial vehicles, whereby the transitions themselves are fluid in the sense of authority. On the one hand, there are motor vehicles, which primarily transport goods. According to the total weight, they are divided into categories. These can be found on the HMRC website in detail:
- Class 1. Also known as category C + E, a class 1 license allows you to drive a vehicle that is 7.5 tonnes or more and has a trailer that detaches.
- Class 2 / Cat C.
- Cat C1.
- Cat C1 + E.
- Cat B + E.
- Cat D.
- Cat D1.
- Lorry Loader / Hiab.
Is a pickup truck classed as a commercial vehicle? Yes in a way, however, things vary a little. Traditional pickups are known as light commercial vehicles (LCVs). They will be taxed differently, however.
Body types/body shapes
To be able to identify the commercial vehicles among the vehicles of class M, a further, finer distinguishing feature is required. The criterion of choice is the so-called body shape, i.e. how the body of a vehicle is shaped or constructed in the area of the rear. Concerning commercial vehicles, the following designs are important:
- AC station wagons: This includes most high-roof station wagons or their mostly windowless, transport variant, the panel van. Examples: Ford Tourneo Courier, Skoda Roomster, Opel Combo, or Opel Combo delivery van.
- Multi-purpose vehicles: These are vehicles for the transport of goods or passengers plus luggage in a single interior, which do not fall into the other categories such as station wagons, convertibles, or limousines. This usually includes the vehicles of the fire brigade and rescue services.
- Pick-up (flatbed truck): With them, the luggage compartment is open and completely separated from the passenger compartment. Examples: Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi L200, Toyota Hilux, Land Rover Defender, etc.
Commercial vehicles can be both trucks and cars. The latter are mainly differentiated according to their structure. Commercial vehicles include high-roof station wagons and box vans, pick-ups and vans, small vans and minibuses, etc.
Key figures on weight and payload
Curb weight - There are many definitions of curb weight, but the essence is the weight of the vehicle when it is ready to drive. The curb weight includes the mass of all utensils (warning triangle, first aid kit, etc.) and all necessary fluids as well as the weight of the driver. It is usually assumed to be 75 kilos. However, the transport quality of a commercial vehicle can mainly be determined using the following two key figures:
- Maximum payload (payload)
- Trailer load.
The trailer load denotes the maximum permissible total load that a vehicle - whether a car or a lorry - is allowed to pull. A distinction must be made between what is technically possible and what is legally permitted. This leads us to the concept of maximum payload. This means the highest possible weight of people and payloads that can be carried in a vehicle. In the case of transport vehicles, the maximum payload of the vehicle/trailer combination is of particular relevance, whereby a distinction must be made between non-braked and braked trailers. Unbreaked trailers may weigh a maximum of 750 kilograms and the actual total weight of the trailer must not exceed that of the towing vehicle. If the trailer is braked, the total weight of the towing vehicle and the trailer must not exceed 3.5 tons. The trailer has to weigh less than the towing vehicle (its empty weight is decisive).
Types of vehicles available today
Good loading volumes or loading space dimensions for various commercial vehicles. The highest cargo space volumes reach 4 to 4.5 cubic meters (4,500 litres), for example in a Peugeot Partner, a Citroen Berlingo, an Opel Combo, a Fiat Doblo, or a Ford Transit Connect. A Dacia Dokker Express, a VW Caddy, and a Mercedes Citan are located in the middle area of around 3 cubic meters. The Toyota Hilux, Land Rover Defender has a loading area that is usually around 1.5 meters long and between 1.2 (between the wheel arches) and 1.6 meters wide. The VW Sharan or Renault Grand Espace has huge luggage compartment volumes in the 2,500 to 3,000-liter range.