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Perhaps you’ve just started a business, or your business has grown to the stage where you need a van, or you’re just replacing a van. Whatever your situation, the decision will be an expensive one, and it deserves some thought.

To access a handy printable PDF version of this factsheet, simply complete your details below.

Why should you read this?

  • If you’re starting a business and you need a van
  • If you’re looking to replace an existing van
  • If you want to expand your existing van fleet


What does your business need?

If you’re buying a replacement you may know the answer, but if this is you’re first van, it can feel like a minefield.

The nature of what you’ll carry is the key decider (see below) but what about the others factors?


  1. How many people must the van carry? If your business involves teams, think about a crew van, particularly if long journeys are involved.
  2. What about the nature of your journeys? Short trips around towns and cities put different demands on the van from long motorway hauls.
  3. Driver comfort – you want to get to the job ready to work, and not exhausted by a noisy uncomfortable journey.
  4. What about access? Will the van have height limits to negotiate? Can it get to loading and work areas easily? Because although you might squeeze through a narrow gap once, the long-term outcome is inevitable – a scraped van.
  5.  Is communication important? Some businesses rely heavily on good satnav and ‘phone links from the van. Make sure your van can support what you need.


Vauxhall Corsavan
Car-derived vans like the Corsavan are great to drive and can carry a reasonable load, but make sure your business won’t need something bigger as you grow

What next?

  • Once you’ve decided on the size, sort out some test drives
  • If you’re unsure, hire for a day or two to see what works for you
  • Explore all the funding options
  • Ultimately, buy a van you like – you’ll be spending plenty of time in it

What must the van carry?

It’s crucial that your van can take the weight and the volume of the load your business demands.

If you carry lots of big, but relatively light boxes for example, that’s very different from heavy loads such as bags of cement or heavy tools.

This will also affect the need to access the load area with a forklift for example. It may even mean you’ll be better off with a pick-up or a flatbed.

If you need to carry pallets that’s a major consideration, and so is the need for access to the side of the van – often the case if you work in towns.

For more on the weights and dimensions of typical items, check this table.


New Vauxhall Combo
The Vauxhall Combo isn’t a big van, but it’ll carry up to 1 tonne. Make sure you really need more before deciding to get a big van

Understanding the costs

Make sure your business can justify the cost of the van, and get advice on the best way to fund it (check our How To fund your new van guide).

Then there are running costs and in particular fuel. If your van has to do lots of motorway miles, its mpg can make a big difference to your monthly outgoing. If you’re running around town, it’s not such an issue.

Choosing a van

  • Understand your load requrements
  • Understand the costs involved
  • Consider issues like access and any special demands
  • Learn more about van classes and weights

Insurance will be affected by the value and nature of the load as well as the van itself. Security is important here so the ability to store your ladders inside the van (left) could be important for example.

Ultimately, you may find that  it makes sense to go with something relatively small like a Vauxhall Combo and only hire a bigger van on the odd occasion you need one.

Same applies to using a trailer. It might not be convenient all the time but for the occasional requirement, hiring or buying a suitable trailer will prove more cost effective than running a big van that’s under-used for most of its life.

Finally however you fund your van, never forget that your biggest cost will be depreciation. Look after it!


Vauxhall Vivaro
Vans like the Vivaro are the mid-sized workhorses that cater to most business needs

Van classes

  • Car derived vans are great to drive and carry up to about 650kg
  • Light vans can be flexible and will carry up to 1 tonne
  • Mid-sized vans are the Vauxhall Vivaro sized workhorses
  • Large panel vans like the Movano will take up to 2 tonnes or 4 pallets

Vans by class and weight

What’s the difference between a light van and a small panel van?  How much bigger is a long wheelbase van than the short wheelbase model?

Understanding the different classes of van and their different carrying capabilities will help when it comes to looking at the vans, especially if you’ve done your homework on the nature of the loads you’ll be carrying.

Visit this link for our guide to the different types of vans you’ll encounter.


Special needs, and security

Make sure the van you choose can accommodate any special requirements – like racking or lifting gear.

Similarly, if you regularly carry valuables, or have to leave tools and equipment in your van, make sure the security is up to it. Check our How To keep you van secure guide.


Vauxhall Movano
Large panel vans like Vauxhall’s Movano can be specified in different wheelbases and heights to suit your needs. The biggest are serious load luggers

Here’s what our sponsor has to say about what Vauxhall van to choose

Whatever van you choose, Vauxhall Commercial Vehicles are designed to help you deliver a top quality job.

Like the Corsavan and Combo. Corsavan carries an impressive 550kg whilst Combo can take right up to 1 tonne.

Choose your Vauxhall van

  • Quick slick Corsavan with a 550kg payload
  • Carry a tonne with a Vauxhall Combo
  • Or tailor a serious load lugger from the Movano and Vivaro ranges
  • Factory-built conversions like dropsides, tippers and Lutons

For operators who need economy in a serious load lugger the longer wheelbase Combo boasts a 7 ft load length (2170mm). Or there’s the Combo Crew Van offering 5-seater capacity and a load area to boot.

Then step up to our medium and heavy vans – Vivaro and Movano. A range of payload, wheelbase, roof height, door and engine configurations allow you to tailor your van to meet your specific needs.

There’s also a range of factory-built Movano conversions including dropsides, tippers and Luton vans.

Whichever Vauxhall you choose, our network of dedicated Van Retailers are ready to help and will go the extra mile to meet your requirements.

For more information, visit our website….

…or why not call us on 0845 740 0777?


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