If new vehicles are in the cards for your company this year, automakers want you to give vans a good, hard look. “If a contractor has had multiple trucks in a row, we hope they consider what a van is capable of,” says Dave Sowers, head of commercial truck marketing for Ram Trucks.
Multiple roof height, wheelbase, and door configurations let drivers choose the best van setup for their needs. Automakers also recommend comparing vehicle reliability, cost of ownership, fuel economy, maintenance, and trailer licensing. But the vehicle’s purpose is key. “A lot of companies are splitting their fleets,” says Joe Langhauser, GM’s product manager for full-size vans. “Construction supervisors may need a small van, while larger, heavier loads may call for larger vehicles.”
With so much to consider, here are five tips to use when weighing options for your next company vehicle, plus we share five new vans on the market, in the slideshow above.
1. Payload vs. Towing: “Vans actually have better payload in any given weight class, while trucks have better towing,” Sowers says. Drivers can do away with tow-behind utility trailers by opting for vans with more interior space and better payload.
2. Access & Security: Open truck beds “leave the contents of the truck bed exposed to environmental impacts and also theft,” says Haily Meyer, marketing manager for Knapheide. Locking up a van means tools and materials say safe and dry.
3. Storage Solutions: To organize all those tools and materials, vans can turn into a rolling workshop with the right upfit. Working with a local commercial vehicle dealer gives customers the chance to choose shelving, rack, and storage options for vans, and often include the cost of those upgrades in the vehicle financing. Find truck and van storage solutions here.
4. Driveability: Sowers says business owners shouldn’t have to make driving a trailer a hiring qualification for crew members. Relocating trailer contents to a van lets owners eliminate both the trailer and the driver training that goes along with it. Sowers and Langhauser agree that vans are also more maneuverable and easier to drive and park than pickups.
5. Personal Use: America remains the land of the pickup truck, and both Sowers and Meyer agree that owner-operators will often lean toward trucks for use on and off the job. “Here in the Midwest, we see a lot of business owners who drive trucks for work then go out on the weekends to hunt and fish,” Meyer says. Sowers adds that pickup trucks have evolved such that 60% to 70% of the pickup market is now crew cab-style vehicles. “If that’s your vehicle of choice, it also lets you drive your family around when you’re off the job,” he says.