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Choosing The Right Vehicles for Your Fleet: Vans vs Pickup Trucks

Vehicle selection is no simple task. A common hang-up we hear from customers is knowing what type of vans or pickup trucks they should use in their fleet. When it comes to choosing between the two, total cost of ownership is important, but there are several additional elements that can be just as critical to consider. For example, job function, efficiency, driver comfort, and location(s) are all essential when deciding how to stock your fleet. To help, we’ve compiled a short list of questions and considerations for you to take under advisement before picking a side. 

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First, you must consider the demands on your business; evaluate what your drivers are doing day to day and what equipment, tools, or materials they may need to have on hand. In order to develop a comprehensive outline of your drivers’ job function and needs, consider the following questions:

  • Are you using the vehicles for mechanics, plumbers, customer service, etc.?
  • Are you hauling significant weights like stone, tiles, dirt, concrete, or pipes?
  • How will that weight be distributed? (i.e. will the weight be distributed evenly, be concentrated at the front of the body, or close to the rear axle? etc.)
  • Do you need to transport customers and/or their belongings?
  • Do you need to blend in with local surroundings, i.e. not look like a “work truck?”

Your Drivers

Drivers are the life force of your business, and as such you need to ensure you’re selecting the vehicles that best suit them. While there are some who may prefer a pickup truck simply for aesthetics, driver health, safety, and comfort needs are important for both the total cost of ownership as well as employee retention and recruitment. Some things to consider:

  • How does the driver use the vehicle?
    • Transportation/delivery only: required towing capabilities will point toward a pickup
    • Use the back as a workspace: vans (often with a high roof profile) may work best
    • Whether it will double as a personal vehicle: capacity will dictate the seating configuration and potentially narrow your vehicle options
  • How can you ensure driver safety?
    • Steps added to vehicles for easy access; airbags; spot mirrors; daytime running lamps; backup cameras; brake system – hydraulic or air
    • Take stock of which safety features you need as well as which ones come standard and/or can easily be added on; this will likely narrow your options for you
  • How can you keep drivers comfortable?
    • Seat/cab configurations are a major consideration; the number of seats you need will tell you if you should choose a van with captain and passenger seats, one with a bench seat, a regular pickup or an extended cab
  • Driver input is essential; survey a variety of drivers to ensure you have every aspect covered

Which Location

The location(s) your drivers will drive to and through will also influence your choice in vehicle. It’s not only the conditions of the areas but the distance traveled to get there, too, that matters. You need to determine if the vehicle will be driven:

  • Primarily on or off road (or a combination of both)
  • Majority of driving on city roads, country roads, highway
    • Need for more fuel efficiency, visibility, maneuverability
  • For jobs close to main office or far
    • Can drivers pick up equipment they may need from headquarters or do they need to be prepared at all times and keep equipment in their vehicle?
  • The type of weather conditions drivers will have to face
    • Rain, snow, extreme heat, etc.

Rely on Expertise

If you’ve gone through the list and you’re still unsure – or you just want some reassurance that you’ve made the right decision – talk to a fleet management service. Managing a fleet is a difficult job, and it isn’t always practical to keep everything internal. Fleet management companies specialize in things like chassis specifications, upfitting, and total cost of ownership. 

With years of experience in the industry, and your best interest in mind, a fleet management provider will ensure that your fleet is properly outfitted with the types of vehicles you need to efficiently achieve your business objectives.

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