Dep-O Magazine

Cargo vans v passengers vans: how do they differ?

Whether van drivers hit the road for business or pleasure, one thing is for certain – they will have chosen the roomier proportions of their van model to ensure their operations run as seamlessly as possible. This could range from anything transporting sofas, full to the brim cardboard boxes and more as part of a house move to exporting ‘Made in Britain’ goods for consumers the continent over to enjoy.

But while freight vans and passengers vans may draw some parallels in terms of the functions they serve, there are some distinct differences when it comes to their design and the drivers they appeal to. Below we look at how these two types of van differ from each other.


Who’s behind the wheel?

The main markets for passenger vans and cargo vans are completely contrasting. Essentially passenger vans are multi-seater vans that are designed to get multiple passengers from A to B; this could be anything from a growing family to a local community group. In contrast small business owners or freight drivers are likely to be behind the wheel of cargo vans as businesses load up goods, parts and more to ensure that this vital part of the supply chain is working efficiently.

Cargo vans v passengers vans: how do they differ?

What’s inside?

While the majority of space in vans is dedicated to, unsurprisingly, freight, passenger vans will offer the flexibility to be used for both passengers and a small amount of cargo. This is often via seats that can be pushed down to create extra room for items to be transported. This is the case with the Renault Trafic Passenger, available in both eight and nine seat versions it serves as the perfect goods and people carrier.

Cargo van variants often have specific features dependent on the nature of the freight they are carrying. For example the Mercedes-Benz Vito comes in a Panel van version, which can house up to three Europallets.

Dimensions and load capacity are also crucial for cargo vans. This is why freight vans are normally offered in varying roof heights, with a wide tonnage range and a maximum payload figure – the latter two of which are often higher than those for passenger vans. Passenger/vehicle ferries will have payload maximums, so this is also an important consideration for firms transporting freight.

Cargo vans v passengers vans: how do they differ?


Where are they going?

While passenger vans are likely to be making shorter journeys on British shores, cargo vans will be transporting freight goods as part of wider logistics chain. As this informative infographic on Freight Economics shows, 2 million self-driven vehicles including cargo vans, helped transport goods via key freight ferry ports including Dover and Portsmouth and onto destinations on the continent in 2012.

In contrast, figures from the Department of Transport’s National Travel Survey (published in 2013 and citing figures for 2012), show that just 2% of journeys made for personal travel, including those made by van drivers, exceeded 50 miles.




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