What do you see if you spend a little time looking out of your window at home on an average weekday? Vans dropping all sizes and shapes of parcels at neighbours houses (or even your own!). Delivery companies need reliable, spacious vans to provide top-notch delivery service. So, here's Vanarama Van Expert Tom Roberts to take a look at the best vans for delivery companies available to lease right now.
It’s little surprise that the Covid-19 pandemic is probably responsible for the huge increase in the demand for home delivery services. When we couldn’t leave home to go to the shops (many of which were closed anyway) we relied on things that we’d bought online being brought to our doors. This has led to a change in habits and now, even though we’re OK to go out and visit the stores, our natural instinct is often to reach for a device and click to order.
This might explain why the courier and express delivery market which had previously grown in volume annually by around 8% rose by 33% in 2020 and a report issued in 2021 estimated a further rise of 14% for that year [TC1] .
A good delivery service needs reliable vehicles. But when it comes to vans, there's a huge choice available. Leasing them makes the best sense - because businesses pay fixed monthly payments for brand-new vans covered by manufacturer warranties - but where do you start with choosing the right van?
Well, let's take a look at the 5 vans below as a starting point:
1: Ford Transit Connect - The Staple Small Van
If you’re delivering in towns, cities and their suburbs, you’ll know that manoeuvrability and ease of parking are a huge bonus when you’re doing dozens of drops a day. With a great compromise between loadspace and ease of driving, look no further than the Ford Transit Connect.
Big on space, big on choice. While it sounds like the usual catchy marketing speak, it's 100% backed up by this excellent small van that has watched new arrivals in its sector from Vauxhall, Citroen, Peugeot and Toyota muscle in. But while it might seem like it's under siege from the other players, don't believe the hype, the Ford Transit Connect is a huge force to be reckoned with.
Ford says the Connect is big on choice and big on space… and they're not wrong! Even with the shortest L1 models you're looking at 1.2m wide x 1.2m high back doors, a 43cm wide x 1.2m wide side sliding door & an excellent loadspace length of 1.5m, width at 1.5m at max and 1.2m between the wheel arches which can easily fit 1 or 2 Euro pallets secured in place with lashing points & multiple hook points. You’ll even get in a 3.4 metre long load if you opt for the optional load through bulkhead. Payload across the models starts at 679kg, and can top out at 961kgs with the bigger variants.
Under the bonnet is an impressive 1.5 litre EcoBlue Diesel engine that returns anywhere between 58.9mpg to 68.9mpg! The gearbox is responsive – the 6-speed box really makes itself felt - and is complemented well by a low turning circle and car-like comfort.
Overall, the Connect handles like a dream, feeling like a much sportier vehicle than it looks! This truly is a small van that packs a punch in the small van sector and nowhere is that more obvious in its excellent cabin – in fact, it's one of the best I've ever sat in.
The Ford Transit Connect does face competition from other small vans, and there are plenty of others that might turn your head… all I can say is that while others might squeak ahead on their user-friendly interiors or a knock-out front end, the Ford Transit Connect often has them beat by having all that AND an MPG rating that will save you a packet in fuel costs! Perfect for short or long-hop delivery drivers.
2: Peugeot e-Partner – A Small Van with Green Credentials
With the increase of low or even zero emission zones in our towns and cities, many couriers and delivery van drivers are looking at electric vans. Leading the ‘charge’ (sorry) in the smaller van sector is the Peugeot e-Partner (together with the lookalikes from Toyota, Citroen and Vauxhall). Need to be seen to be green? Take a look at the emission free Peugeot e-Partner!
The van is powered by a 136hp electric motor, so it’s got more than enough under the bonnet for even the most demanding driver giving a nippy 0-60mph time of 11.2 seconds, and a top speed of 84mph (many other electric vans have speed limiters designed to increase their range between charges – not this one, it’ll go as fast as it’s able!). Although the official range of 170 miles from the 50kWh battery might be a challenge to achieve in real world driving, it’s up there with the best and will be enough for the working day for many operators. A standard 7.4kw wallbox will give you a full recharge in 7.5 hours, and a quick DC charge from a public chargepoint will top you up to 80% in as little as 30 minutes.
It might be classed a small, but, don’t be misled, this van in the longer, L2 form has a load length at floor level of 2.16 metres, extendable to 3.44 metres if you opt for an optional folding passenger seat. A load height of 1.24 metres gives a total loadspace of 3.8 cubic metres (4.4 with the seat option) and it can take 2 euro pallets too. Payloads are up to 803kgs, not bad at all considering the weight of the batteries. Loads of room, low running costs and zero emissions too. What’s not to like with the Peugeot e-Partner?
3: Vauxhall Vivaro - The UK-Built Medium Van
Vauxhall is a big name in the van world, from the first Bedfords to the modern-day Combo and the Vauxhall Vivaro medium panel van. This medium van is the last bastion of British vans and is made at Vauxhall's plant based just up the road from Vanarama HQ in Luton!
Let's be clear… this is a van built on the shared medium duty van platform from the Stellantis Group stable, which means the interiors are very similar. But, the build quality is excellent and tough, with durable plastics all over the place… even the seat fibre is strong, and I imagine you could be sliding on and off the seat all day on deliveries for a good few years before they show any wear and tear.
The loading bay is spacious and easily accessible with a back door height and width of 1.2m and 1.3m, respectively. Load length on the longer L2 version is 2.8m, but that can be increased via the load-through facility to 4m - very useful for those longer packages. Loading bay height is 1.4m, width is 1.6m (down to 1.2m between the arches) and easily accessible from the side too thanks to the 1.2m-high by 1m-wide side door. Payload is impressive at an average of 1415kg across the range - that's a lot of parcels and sausages!
The 1st generation launched in 2001 & after a tonne of facelifts, better engines and other updates, the 2nd generation launched in 2014. We didn't have to wait long until the 3rd generation launched in the UK at The CV Show in April 2019, showing off the all-new 2.0-litre diesel engine with electric stability & excellent new traction control system. And, if you want to go fully electric, take a look at the new Vivaro-e, which combines all of the above loadspace benefits with emission free technology!
Delivery drivers looking for that perfect van that blends space, mobility and excellent running costs - the Vauxhall Vivaro is definitely the place to start. Higher trim levels pack in a lot more tech, but even the lower more affordable variants still have all the usual bells and whistles you'd expect. Start your search with this van!
4: Citroen Relay - The Reliable Large Van
Size isn't everything… unless you're looking for a large van in which case size is pretty important! If you've ever seen a Fiat Ducato or Peugeot Boxer large van then you might not have realised you were basically staring at a Citroen Relay as these vans are more or less the same - delivery drivers should check this van out.
It's a proper workhorse, and not only is it capable of carrying huge loads, its running costs are some of the best in the category, something Citroen are VERY proud about. They're also proud about letting people know that it went through a ton of testing – 4m kilometres of test driving and 500,000 door slams.
It features one of the widest load bays in this class of van, at 1.8m between partitions and 1.4m between the inner wheel arches. Loads lengths are up to a huge 4.07 metres giving a volume of 17 cubic metres. That’s space for an awful lot of parcels. The back doors are nearly 2m high and 1.5m wide, the side door is also 1.2m wide meaning you can slide pallets in and out through there too!
Payloads vary depending on the model and range between 1125kgs and a hefty 1570kgs, possibly class leading for this weight of van. H3 versions of the Relay are 2.1m high inside (better than the Sprinter and VW Crafter) and the standard steel bulkhead has plenty of fixing points and fittings across the full height of the van.
Driver comfort is also solid and for a basic-looking interior, it's comfy. Suspension is bouncy when empty but stiffens well under load & the 2-litre BlueHDi engine is powerful - Citroen has always been good at selecting hard-wearing, hard-working engines. For its size, the Relay boasts an easy drive with a really low turning circle for such a big van.
Overall, while the cabin is basic, it still has the creature comforts you need in a delivery van. But it's a workhorse, does it have to be an overblown tech cavern? The Relay is a hard-working vehicle, so it's all about being highly durable from the front to the back, and ideal for long distances.
And you might expect to pay for that durability, but the Relay is a great van, available for great prices, especially when you lease one.
5: Mercedes-Benz Sprinter – The Delivery Drivers Favourite
Thousands of van drivers can’t be wrong. For those who really need the volume for 100+ multi-drop routes, the Mercedes-Benz is often the goto van. And with over 1700 (yes, seventeen hundred) variants of the Sprinter on offer, even the most demanding customer is bound to find the perfect van for the job.
The Sprinter is well known for its spacious cab, making entry and exit so much easier, something multi-drop drivers will appreciate. Mercedes-Benz knows that the delivery driver can potentially wear out the driver's seat quickly, especially on the seat squab closest to the driver's door so the materials used in the manufacture of the seat are extremely durable.
With a reputation for engines that will run forever and ever (OK, not quite, but for many hundreds of thousands of miles if maintained correctly) the Sprinter is a van which appeals especially to the long distance driver. 150HP, 170HP and 190HP versions of the 1950cc diesel engine are on offer, all of which are capable of eating up those long motorway miles effortlessly.
Let’s take a look at the ultimate parcel carrying Sprinter, the L4 with the optional, super high H3 roof. You’ll have over 4.8 metres of load length from the rear doors to the bulkhead, and a height of 2.24 metres. Combine that with a maximum width of 1.87 metres and you’ve a cavernous 17 cubic metres for all those packages. You’ll have no trouble getting larger loads through the rear doors which have an aperture of 1.84 metres high by 1.55 wide, and the huge side load door comes in at 1.81 metres high by 1.26 wide. Room for 6 euro pallets.
Don’t forget though, with such a large van it’s easy to overload it from a weight perspective – check that your loads aren’t going to exceed 1000kgs otherwise this Sprinter might not be for you. Payloads rise with the shorter wheelbases though, so all is not lost, if you can do the job with the loadspace in the rear of an L2H1 Sprinter, you’ll be able to carry over 1300kgs.
How To Choose The Right Delivery Van
The major factors that should influence your choice of van for a delivery company or courier work are as follows with my recommendations on what to consider:
How Much Will You Need To Deliver Daily?
The amount of goods you need to deliver daily will naturally affect your choice of vans. But, as you can see from the similar payloads in the Vivaro and Relay, just because you carry a lot of weight doesn't mean you need a big van. Big vans are perfect for big (in terms of volume) deliveries, medium vans are more suited to multiple smaller goods packed into a smaller space. Small vans have their place for short-hop delivery companies and some of you will go straight for them.
Have A Think About Your Working Day
Would having twin side loading doors make kerbside deliveries easier? (Bear in mind the safety implications though). Do you cover unfamiliar areas regularly? It might be worth having satellite navigation in your new van, or maybe Android Auto / Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, allowing for Google Maps to be displayed on your multimedia screen.
Engine choice isn’t the only consideration when it comes to what’s under the bonnet. You’d probably be horrified if you counted the number of gear changes that you do on your daily route, with all those drops. Automatic transmission will make your working day a whole lot more relaxing, meaning that you’ll drive more safely through being less tired, and you might not fall asleep so often whilst watching Eastenders when you get home. An added bonus is that the days of auto’s being fuel hungry are behind us thanks to tech advances. In some cases, they’re more economical to run than the same van with a manual gearbox. Those supermarket delivery vans you see on the road? They’re all autos...
Do You Need A Refrigerated Van?
If you deliver foodstuffs, chances are you'll need a fridge van. You'll be pleased to know that most vans can be easily converted into fridge vans and that Vanarama can lease them to you. If you've seen a van you like on this page, when you get in touch with us just let us know you want a fridge version. Simple as that.