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Buying a new van checklist

  • Get the van you need 
It might sound obvious, but make sure you buy a new van to suit your needs. Ignore the advertising fluff and drill down to the detail on running costs, fuel consumption, load capacity and standard equipment.
  • Be aware of the costs
Make sure you find out the service and insurance costs before signing on the dotted line.
  • Shop around
Visiting dealers is important when buying a new van, but look on the internet as well in the quest for best deal on your van. On-line brokers have access to bulk buy deals and can pass the savings on – see our van finance specialists page
  • Trade in, trade up
If you’re trading in your old van when buying a new one, make sure you do a bit of arithmetic and subtract what you’ve been offered and the cost of the new van to work out its true cost.
  • Watch out for added extras
When buying a new van, things like free insurance are often thrown in. This is clever as nothing is ever free – it will have been factored into the price! You may also be offered gap insurance by the dealer, which comes into play if your new van is written off. Commission added by the dealer can bump up the premium, so it’s worth checking out independent companies to find the actual cost.
  • Are you getting the best finance deal?
Check any finance deal offered carefully against what’s been offered in the broader loans market. You might be able to reduce the cost price by paying cash up front!

Buying a new van is easy, right?

YOU just get yourself to the nearest dealer, slap a few quid on the table and drive off with your new vans.

If you aren’t sure what new van to buy, then just get newer versions of whatever you had before.

Well if that’s your strategy, you are probably one of the thousands of users who are driving around in the wrong van – and that means you are wasting an awful lot of money.
And don’t forget that after you buy the wrong vans you’ll be stuck with them for years – as long as your fleet lifecycle lasts in fact. In that time, thousands of pounds could be flushed down the drain unnecessarily.

Experts reckon that 30% of fleet’s waste cash by buying unsuitable new vans, so if you think you might be one of these, read on as we have some sound advice for you which could see you and your bank manager beaming.

Would buying a smaller van do the same job?

There’s an old adage among fleet managers that goes: “No-one ever got sacked for buying Ford Transits.” And that is true, which is probably why the Transit has been the best selling new van in Britain since its launch in 1965.

But hang on – just stop and think awhile. Do your Transits ever get filled to the brim with cargo? Probably not.

And if so, couldn’t the slightly smaller Transit Connect do just as well?

By buying Connect rather than Transit (or indeed smaller versions of any of the big panel vans available today – we just picked Ford as an example), you save a couple of grand on front-end costs, while fuel will go further in the smaller van and you may even get a better percentage residual value price when you come to sell it.

The good news is that most of the big manufacturers including Ford with its Transit Centres, Fiat (Domenico Gostoli interview) and Mercedes, nowadays have specialist van centres, staffed by experts who know a lot more than just selling vehicles.

If you came into a Mercedes-Benz showroom, say, and ask to buy a few Sprinters, the salesman will first sit you down and ask exactly what you want them for. See our Steve Bridge Vito interview as he talks about how Mercedes Vans are sold.
By getting a handle on the type of fleet you run, he may suggest smaller Vitos as a more cost-effective choice.

Or of course he may on the other hand try and flog you some bigger Varios if he thinks you’ll be overloading your vans and breaking the law.

It’s all pretty simple really but you’d be amazed how many people get it wrong.

Ford Transit Centre

Why buy your next van from a specialist van centre?

  • Dedicated to commercial vehicles and more respectful of the type of consumer they’re likely to be dealing with
  • Specially trained sales and financial staff are able to fulfil the needs of the SME better.
  • Better understanding of the customer’s needs, making sure the customer buys the right van.

If your local dealer doesn’t have a specialist van centre, then we strongly urge you to look elsewhere.

A shed round the back of the car showroom for commercial vehicle sales is no longer acceptable in this day and age.

One of the traditional problems with downsizing was that until recently, smaller vans only had two seats, so even if you wanted to downgrade you couldn’t if you needed to carry three people.
Nowadays the Citroen Berlingo and Peugeot Partner have a three seat option, along with the new Ford Transit Connect. The middle seat is a dicky rather than a full-blown affair, but as long as you don’t want to carry three sumo wrestlers hundreds of miles, this seat will suffice – just.

Doblo Cargo XL and the Scudo
A closer look at the Doblo Cargo XL and the Scudo reveal some interesting differences

Comparing the Doblo Cargo XL with the Scudo

  • Both have the same five cubic metre loadspace
  • Doblo Cargo costs £400 less and returns 47.1mpg compared to the Scudo’s 40.9mpg
  • Over the course of 100,000 miles, this means the Doblo wil use 321 gallons of fuel less than the Scudo

The other goods news is that as manufacturers churn out ever more complicated model ranges, many smaller vans are now as big as their larger counterparts.

Take Fiat for example. The Doblo Cargo XL has a loadspace of five cubic metres – exactly the same as that offered in the smallest Scudo, which is technically in the next sector above.
But the XL costs roughly £400 less to buy and is stated to return 47.1mpg on the combined cycle as opposed to 40.9mpg for the Scudo.

That means over the course of a 100,000-mile life the Doblo will use 321 gallons of fuel less than the Scudo, so at today’s prices and including the front-end cost saving, that’s a whopping £2,555.

The other possible problem with downsizing you may have is if you occasionally need to carry bigger loads.

Don’t despair, for here daily rental can come to the rescue. We hired a Citroen Relay 3.5-tonne Luton the other week from Steve’s Self Hire in Southend, Essex, for £62 a day, so bearing in mind the cost saving mentioned above, you can hire the bigger vehicle on quite a few occasions and still be quids in.

And there’s one added bonus to downsizing – you can then go to your customers boasting about your green credentials – and that means a lot to certain people you may do business with, especially local councils.

A smaller van means fewer of the earth’s resources have been used to make it, it will emit fewer harmful gases during its life and when it goes to the scrapyard, there will be less metal to get rid of.

A little bit of thought when you’re buying a new van can really save you a fortune  – and help save the planet too.


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