Chances are, if you make your living in the trades, construction, or similar industry, you have a vehicle that is earmarked for the job. It might be a van, it might be a truck, four wheel drive, diesel, or have hundreds of thousands of miles logged on it. In any case, at some point, you are going to be looking for a new one.
Now, it could be “new to you” or it could be showroom fresh, but when it comes down to spending your hard-earned money on a new ride for work, how do you determine what works best for you?
Well, at Expertec, we’ve been upfitting trucks and vans for commercial use in trade, construction, and industry for years and we’ve learned a lot about how our clients use their vehicles. In our opinion, there are some key factors to consider when you start looking for a new vehicle for work – and the first question is this one:
Pickup or Van? Buying a new vehicle for work, you have to consider what you’re going to do with it. Payload is one factor, but if you read through the payloads from the manufacturer, the truth is that many vans have similar gross vehicle weights to a comparable pickup truck. While you may need a one-ton rated payload, the question has to be addressed – is that ton of stuff made up of expensive tools, a myriad of small inventory pieces and parts, or are you hauling framing materials and a few tools in a job box? In a lot of instances, the van wins because of the variety of shelving, storage, and customizing that can be done inside it – allowing great security and the opportunity to have “everything in its place and a place for everything”. Pickup beds are notorious for having unscrupulous folks “help themselves” to their contents, but a van – or a truck equipped with a Spacekap – can offer you plenty of organization and security.
Another key question is a variation on the first – are you going to tow or haul? If you are going to tow – and tow heavy – then the pickup gets the nod. Longer wheelbases and bigger, more powerful engines mean that 15 or even 20 thousand pounds can be hauled with the right trailer setup and the drivetrain and brake system tuned for the job. In that respect, vans simply cannot compete. Adding in a good utility body or a Spacekap and you can have the best of both worlds. Just as importantly, though, consider that some of the stuff you have traditionally hauled on a small utility trailer behind a pickup could just as easily be hauled in the cargo area of a van and you need not worry about licensing the trailer and worrying about employees having to back one up.
The idea of engines is an important one, and while there are several full-size vans that offer similar drivetrains based on their pickup brethren, many of the newest and most popular vans in the commercial market are designed around a more economical engine to support fleets. There are several notable exceptions and some careful research will show you what’s out there in the way of the bigger powerplants for a commercial van. As a general rule, though, the popularity of the new style of commercial vans is predicated on fuel economy and plenty of room to customize the cargo area. An emerging trend we’ve seen is that both van and pickup owners are considering fuel economy and the overall cost of ownership more so today than in years past. The price of fuel is not getting any less expensive and drivetrains that waste money are just that – a waste of resources for the company.
At the same time, especially in the more rugged areas of the country – and make no mistake, a jobsite can still be rugged even if it is in the city, four wheel drive is no longer the sole dimension of the truck. That’s right, manufacturers understand the importance of traction in any given commercial circumstance, so four wheel drive is an option on several new commercial vans.
In the end, the biggest question comes down to this, though: What is the vehicle? Is it purpose-built for a job or a “one size fits all?” The pickup has become, in the last two decades, a luxury car with a bed and now owners have all the amenities that a premium car has along with the chance to haul thousands of pounds. In short, do you need your vehicle to leave the jobsite and escort the family around on the weekend? Will your work vehicle pull double duty hauling firewood from the deer camp from time to time? If that is the case, then the four-door pickup is probably the best solution and when you purchase it, Expertec can build in all the accessories you need to be able to make the most out of it – a cap, power inverters and storage options you’ve never even thought of.
On the other hand, if you have the ability to truly create a “work-only” vehicle, then a van upfitted by Expertec may give you a great return on your investment and provide you exactly the organization you are looking for with a fully customized cargo area that works exactly the way you need it to.
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to explore some of the new and exciting options that are on the way for commercial vans and we’ll take a deeper look into how the pickup truck can be made even more user-friendly for owners who expect it to play multiple roles in their lives and businesses.