A Guide to Commercial Vehicles

A Guide to Different Commercial Vehicle Types

Guide to Commercial VehiclesThe type of van you buy will depend on what you intend using it for.

Don’t go into a dealer’s or check out used commercial vehicle sites without having a good idea of what sort of van you’re after.

Here are the main types of vans you will see on the road and their main uses.

Micro vans

As the name suggests, these are small vans and are handy for urban use. They are quite good at nipping around tight city streets. Of course, their size means that drivers who are a bit on the tall side may find them a bit of a squeeze.

But, considering micro vans are quite small, they do provide a decent amount of cargo space. Fuel economy isn’t great and long journeys may be a bit of a slog for a micro van. The Suzuki Carry and Daihatsu Hijet are examples of micro vans.

Car-derived vans

These are effectively cars which have been converted into small vans. The rear seats will have been removed and normally the side windows blocked out. New floor panelling will also have been fitted to make the rear of the car into a cargo area.

Load space is usually restricted, with payloads usually no more than 500kgs. This is so the combined weight of the van and a full load won’t be over two tonnes.

Because of their origins as cars, these vehicles usually provide good fuel economy, both in urban environments and on the open road. However, car-derived vans aren’t suitable for bulky or heavy cargo. The Fiat Punto van and Vauxhall Astravan are good examples of car-derived vans.

Light vans/Hi-Cube vans

These can be odd-looking vehicles. The front will usually have more of a car look about it with the storage area to the rear looking more cube-shaped. The load space is also taller and wider, which provides a generous amount of load area for such a small vehicle.

This type of vehicle is good for transporting small- to medium-sized loads and boasts good fuel economy. Fiat Doblo and Vauxhall Combo fall in this category.

Small panel vans

A bit of a halfway house between light vans and large panel vans, the small panel vehicles are pretty adept at carrying decent loads. They also have the advantage of being easy to park and aren’t as cumbersome as larger vans. Their running costs and van insurance costs are usually pretty low and they score pretty high for fuel economy. Examples of small panel vans include the Citroen Dispatch and Peugeot Expert.

Large Panel vans

There are three different lengths for large panel vans – short wheelbase (SWB), medium wheelbase (MWB) and long wheelbase (LWB). Large panel vans also fall into three different categories of roof height – low roof (LR) or standard roof (SR), medium roof (MR) and high roof (HR).

They may be harder to negotiate tight city streets, but will haul heavier loads and have ample load space. The Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter are examples of large panel vans.

Pick ups

Easy to spot as they differ greatly in appearance from other vans. The driver and passenger’s area is enclosed, but the load area is usually open. Pick ups can fall into different categories, depending on cab size – there are single cabs with a seat for the driver and one passenger or four-door double cabs which have rear seats as well.

They can be handy if you drive regularly on bumpy, country roads or inhospitable terrain as most pick ups have four-wheel drive. However, this can make them a bit unrefined when it comes to smoother motorways or urban streets. The Mitsibushi L200 and Nissan Navara fall into this category.

Chassis cabs

This is a bit of a ‘build your own’ van. This type of vehicle is usually a cab sat on a bare chassis base. The owner can then choose the bed which is appropriate for their own use. These can include tippers, flatbeds, dropsides and lutons (box vans) or the driver can have their own bed specifically made. Examples include the Ford Transit and Renault Master.


Basically, a van with side panels replaced with windows. Minibuses will usually contain anywhere between eight and 16 seats for passengers. There are other modifications which can be made to minibuses, including the fitting of ramps and wheelchair lifts. Vans which can be converted into minibuses include the Ford Transit and Fiat Ducato.

No matter what type of commercial vehicle you choose, you’re sure to get a great deal at VanInsured.co.uk

VanInsured.co.uk – The Commercial Vehicle Specialists