So you've decided to take the plunge and start your own business. You know that you are going to need a van, but you don't know what type to buy, let alone which specific one! There are so many questions to ask yourself, such as:
So many businesses use a van to carry out their work including decorators, plumbers, electricians, tradespeople, builders, florists, logistics/delivery, caterers and many more. However, a florist will have very different needs from their van compared to a builder, so it is vitally important that you get the right size and type of van to suit the needs of your business.
Typically, a small van is no larger than a medium sized car such as the Vauxhall Astra, Renault Megane or Volkswagen Golf, so you won't have to get used to driving a large vehicle and some of the difficulties that are associated with that.
Small vans are compact enough that they can easily navigate city streets and narrow roads as well as being easy to park on the road and in car parks. Despite their size they have a deceptively big load space which means that you could carry a large number of items easily. What's more is that your load is easily accessible through side loading doors so that you don't have to worry about finding a space with enough room for you to access it from the rear.
Because they are the size of a medium car, small vans are just like cars to drive and they offer very good fuel consumption figures (between 40 and 60mpg) which is another positive if you are travelling around the city in short bursts.
Small vans are very useful for professions such as florists, couriers, photographers, mobile hairdressers and other similar professions. They offer a large and safe space to store deliveries or equipment while being economical and agile enough to be driven short distances around town. For a list of small vans click here.
Often used by plumbers, joiners, builders and delivery drivers, medium vans provide a fairly large load space which can carry 8x4 sheets and two Euro pallets.
Able to carry up to 1.5 tonnes of cargo with a load space of 5-6 cubic metres, the medium van is the most popular size of van in the UK. This is probably because of its impressive load carrying statistics and the fact that it remains small enough to park in a parking bay or on a driveway.
A medium sized van is useful for a number of professionals because it offers enough space to transport pipes/tubes up to three metres long and has straight side walls if racking needs to be installed.
Typically, a medium van offers 30-40mpg so it is fairly cheap to run for short journeys around town, but also very capable of doing longer distances if needed to. They are affordable to buy and often come with a range of features such as aircon and DAB radio as standard. For a list of medium vans click here.
A large 3.5 tonne van is the heaviest that you are legally allowed to drive on a regular UK car license and the 3.5 tonne gross vehicle mass is the absolute total legal weight of the vehicle! This means that you should consider what you are looking to carry in your van and whether it is just bulky or actually heavy.
Large vans are typically used by people transporting big loads such as logistics or removals. They tend to offer an extra three cubic metres of load space compared to medium vans so that you can transport larger and longer loads.
Usually, large vans have a high roof so that you can carry tall items and you are also able to stand inside the load area while you are loading and unloading. Because of their size, large vans provide lower fuel consumption (around 25-35mpg) making running costs slightly higher.
Driving a large van is also slightly different from driving a car because they are longer and heavier and potentially less stable so you need to take extra care when going round bends and corners. You also need to consider your load and if its securely fastened. Taking corners too sharply or breaking erratically could damage your load and your van. Before buying a large van you should ask yourself if you definitely need that amount of space on a daily basis. For a list of large vans click here.
Some loads are not suited to enclosed panel vans no matter what size they are, particularly building and garden materials. Typically, dropsides and tippers are used to transport sand, gravel, cement, stone, etc. so they are very suited to a builder or tradesperson. They can also be used to transport garden waste and soil making them a good fit for a landscape gardener as well.
Dropsides and tippers are ideally suited to this kind of work because they offer a flat loading surface and direct access to the load area for fork lifts or shovels so that loading and unloading can be achieved easily.
The difference between a dropside and a tipper is mechanical - a tipper's load area can be mechanically raised to tip the load out the back, whereas a dropside has sideboards that can be folded down.
Depending on how many people you need to transport, single and double cab options are available so you can carry up to a maximum of six people. The choice of a dropside or a tipper mainly depends on your need to mechanically raise the load area which makes the vehicle heavier, but also massively decreases unloading times. For a list of dropsides and tippers click here.
Very popular across the Atlantic in America, the pickup truck is starting to gain prominence in the UK as the market continues to grow, but who would need one?
First of all it's important to mention that pickup trucks can carry a payload of around 1,000kg with a load space of approximately 1.5m² that is not restricted by height because it is open. This means that you can easily carry items that might not fit into a small van. You can also carry loose items such as garden refuge and the load area can easily be cleaned with a hose.
Unlike most vans, a pickup truck can also be considered a tool for your business. They are best at towing with a maximum towing capacity that often exceeds well over 2,000kg! They are robust enough to haul lumber and capable off road so that you can tackle difficult terrains without any problems.
A pickup truck could be a useful vehicle for a garden landscaper or even a tree surgeon. With a double cab they can transport up to six people and can carry heavy and fluid loads across any given terrain. For a list of pickup trucks click here.