When it comes to choosing a new van for your business it can often seem a very confusing task. There are so many makes and models available that the choice can seem endless and very difficult to make. If your business needs a van its likely you will have a set of criteria that you want the new van to be able to meet. Whether its adding to an existing fleet, replacing an older van or purchasing your first one, by answering a few simple questions you will get a better idea as to which is the right van for you.
How many passengers?
As a basic rule of thumb most small vans will only have a driver and passenger seat, where as transit van size and above usually have a row of three seats. If you require more seats the next size up would be a crew van which is basically a van with a second row of seats much like a car. Because of a vans extra width, a crew can usually accommodate up to 6 passengers, behind which will be the cargo area. For the safety of any passengers travelling in the van you need to ensure that a full length steel bulkhead is fitted between the passengers and any cargo. A bulkhead will usually come as standard on most vans however some come with half height bulkheads which are acceptable as long as the load height falls below the barrier. If more than 6 seats are required then a minibus may be your best option which can be found in 9, 12, 15 and 17 seat versions.
What will the van carry?
Most van models come in a choice of wheel base lengths and heights to ensure that there is a big enough cargo area to hold the goods you intend to carry. Each van will also have a payload capacity, which is the maximum weight load the van can carry. Even though the van can carry a certain weight you need to be aware that there is also a maximum weight you can load on the front and back axles of a van. Before purchasing a big van consider how often will the van be carrying a heavy load? If it’s only a few times a year it may be cheaper to look at purchasing a smaller van with lower running costs and just hire a large van for a specific job as and when required. Transport police have the legal power to be able to pull a van over at any time and take it to the nearest weigh bridge. If the van is found to exceed any of these weight restrictions both the company and driver can receive a hefty fine, so get the right van for the job.
How will the van be loaded?
Along with having a big enough payload capacity and cargo space for your needs, you also need to consider how you will get the goods into the van in the first place. Depending on the method of loading your van whether it’s by fork lift truck, manually or even by crane if it’s a tipper or drop side van you need to ensure that your van has the correct access. Most vans come as standard with one sliding door, but you can have a door on both sides of the van if needed on a number of models. A vans rear doors can also differ and if you have to load up in a tight space having a van that has rear doors that only open up to 180° as opposed to 270° which is fully open can be a major inconvenience. If you are looking at a Luton van which is perfect for furniture removals, will a tail lift make your life much easier; if so don’t forget that the weight of the lift will mean a reduction in the payload that the van can carry.
Price is a determining factor for every business we all have a budget to stick to which can sometimes mean that the van we want and the van we can afford aren’t the same. There are alternatives to purchasing a van outright such as leasing or hire purchase deal. They may not suit everyone but if yours is one of those businesses that will be looking to change their van every 3-4 years then its worth considering a lease or hire purchase deal. With a van leasing agreement you are only renting the van for a fixed period, where at the end of the lease you just hand the van back. Because you aren’t buying the van just paying for the depreciation of the van over the fixed duration, your monthly payments will be a lot lower enabling you to afford a better quality of van for your budget.
It’s a good idea to calculate a rough estimate of the monthly/weekly mileage the van you intend to purchase will cover. If you are interested in a number of models there are places online where you can get an estimate of the vans MPG which should enable you to work out the running costs for each van. You may be surprised to find that some vans are a lot more economical than others which can make a big difference to your pocket over the year. Finding an economical van has never been more important than now especially with escalating fuel costs, who knows how much the price at the pump will have risen to by the end of the year.
How comfortable is the van to drive?
You wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes without trying them on first the same should be said about a van because for many people they will be sitting in it for longer than they will be standing each day. Vans much like people come in all shapes and sizes which mean that your comfort level may differ greatly from one van to another dependent on your build and height. So make sure you try before you buy!
What Features do you need?
Vans these days come with a long list of available features depending on the make and model, some will come as standard while you have to pay extra for others. This will differ on all makes and models, where what’s standard on one van may be an extra cost on another. Work out exactly what you need your van to have, along with what you would like to have and then compare all the vans you have short-listed. If you are in and out of the van all the time features like remote central locking can be extremely handy, while safety features like ABS, TCS and airbags can certainly make a journey a lot safer.
Speak to an expert
If after looking at all your options you are still unsure then speak to a van specialist as that’s what they are there for at the end of the day, listening to your needs and giving advice to find the best van to suit your requirements. Just remember that once you have worked out how much your budget can afford stick to that figure and don’t go over it.