Are you a UK business owner who needs to buy a delivery van? You need to get the right one so this information will (hopefully!) give you all the knowledge you need to make an informed decision about choosing the right one.

The First Step In Choosing A Van

What is the nature of your business? You need to bear this in mind when deciding upon the specification of the van (or vans) you propose to buy. Here are some important factors to take into consideration:

  • How big is your company (or the one you work for)? You really need to know how many different people will use the van for deliveries; particularly if they will all need specific training to handle it.
  • Where are your customers located, geographically? There is little point in buying a van that is best suited for urban areas if they are scattered all over the country, or a huge van if it will have to negotiate narrow city streets.
  • Will you be delivering heavy goods? You may need a van with a bigger payload.
  • Will you be carrying bulky items? Then you may need more interior space.
  • Will you need to carry special handling equipment, or will you need it fitted? Not every van is suitable for this.
  • Should the van be refrigerated? If you are to carry foodstuffs, then perhaps the answer should be "yes".
  • Does the interior of the van need to be kept spotlessly clean? Cleanliness may be essential,for hygiene purposes?
  • Will it be used for door-to-door deliveries? If so it must be suitable for 'stop-start' usage.
  • Do you expect your business to grow in the future? Then perhaps you should consider a bigger one.
  • And finally (and perhaps most importantly!) what is your budget?
A good van to choose
Budget is not the only consideration!

Available delivery vans

These include:

  • Light commercial vans: which are designed to carry smaller loads, and and are best suited for short trips within the city. They typically have a carrying capacity of up to 3 tons.
  • Heavy commercial vans: which are designed to carry bigger loads and are best suited for long-distance trips. They typically have a carrying capacity of up to 5 tons.
  • Refrigerated vans: which are designed to carry perishable goods, and come pre-fitted with refrigeration units.

Consider fuel efficiency

Fuel efficiency is one of the most important considerations when choosing a delivery van. Picking one with high fuel efficiency will reduce the cost of fuel and help you save money on your business expenses, but this could be a false economy if this vehicle didn't match your other requirements.

When choosing a fuel-efficient van, you should first determine if it will be used mainly for urban or long-distance deliveries. You will then be able to find the right type of van that best meets your business needs. Urban delivery vans are typically smaller, lighter vans that are designed to be fuel-efficient but these could be totally inadequate for long distance work.

Consider The Engine Type

Another important factor to consider when selecting a fuel efficient van is the engine type. There are four main types of engines: diesel, petrol, electric and hybrid. Diesel engines are (at the moment) more common in delivery vans. They are generally more fuel efficient than petrol engines, but are more expensive to maintain. However there are concerns about the air pollution that diesel engines cause and it is likely that clean air zones will make them less economic as the number of these increases, and charges for high polluting vehicles rise.

Electric vans such as the E-Transit and Mercedes eSprinter are popular but they are expensive to buy and future maintenance costs, particularly of batteries, have yet to be determined. Increased electricity costs have degraded the fuel savings for them too at present, although how long this will continue is anyone's guess. The range of these vans on a full charge is probably enough for a day's local deliveries, but for heavy long distance work it could be a real drawback and re-charging at the end of every day's work could be a hassle.

As environmental legislation gets tighter it may be than in many more areas electric powered delivery vans will be mandatory so if to deliver to these areas it is worth keeping an eye on the latest rules - usually there will be at least a few year's notice of these zones.

There are not many hybrid engined vans on the market; the Toyota Corolla Commercial is the only self charging van on the UK market and it has limited payload or loading space but others may follow in the future.

LPG fueled vans have a lot of supporters and they are far better for the environment than diesel and petrol but there are few places to refuel and they are likely to get even fewer in the future as they are replaced by electric vehicle charging points.

Consider the cost

The cheapest option isn't always the best one. You might need to run the vehicle for longer than you expect; so perhaps you should buy one that will last (and which will not cost you a fortune in maintenance)!

Then again you may prefer to change your vehicles regularly. If this is the case then re-sale values (and the ease of selling that type of van) could be top of your list.

So, to sum up:

Now that you have made a list of all your priorites it is time to (a) sleep on it; (b) find a van which meets your specifications (or at leat the most important ones); then sharpen your negotiating skills and try and get the best deal you can. Good luck!

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