Running a fleet can be an expensive affair. While drivers and fuel are among the largest ongoing cost factors, the purchase of the vehicle itself will always play a significant role in the total cost of ownership.
For many businesses operating locally with low annual mileage, the used van market continues to offer significant savings over virgin metal. With the new van market booming, there is finally a steady flow of good used light commercial vehicles into auction halls and also used van forecourts.
However, don’t expect huge bargains as used vans are in high demand. While more fleet and ex-lease vans are entering the market, there remains a shortage of high-quality single-owner light commercial vehicles, especially those of good specification.
1. Ford Transit Custom – Used Van of the Year
2.0 TDCi 105 L1 (2018/18, 60k miles, £13,948)
If Porsche were to make a van, it’s very likely it would be something very similar to the Transit Custom. In fact, as with the German company’s iconic 911, the famed Ford has been more than half a century in the making. The rugged, reliable and versatile Blue Oval machine is honed to be the ultimate business asset and is the perfect choice for owners who have to work hard and play hard.
This particular version, the Transit Custom, was launched in 2012 and has proven to be one of Ford’s biggest sellers, as the combination of value and space is hard to beat. You can choose from long and short wheelbase models, as well as low and high roof configurations, plus the option of a double cab or minibus layout, so there is something for everyone. In fact, with prices starting at £8,000, it won’t plunge corporate accounts into the red.
The same goes for running costs, with the venerable 2.2-litre TDCi diesel offering a captivating blend of muscle and efficiency, especially in its 125hp appearance. Later cars get a mild-hybrid assisted 2.0-litre, while there’s even a petrol-electric plug-in range extender.
Yet the Transit Custom is more than hard work, because it also drives with the balance and precision you would expect from a Ford. Precise steering, mastered handling and beautifully weighted controls make this one of the best vans for those who love driving. It is also easy to drive thanks to its excellent visibility, high driving position and size that allows it to glide through most narrow streets and be placed in normal car sized parking lots.
If your budget is too big, look for post-2016 models, which come with a more stylish cabin, including Ford’s neat SYNC 3 touchscreen infotainment system. It has seamless connectivity for your smartphone, so you can keep working even on the go.
Whichever version you choose, you’ll get one of the hardest-working heroes on the high street who will prove to be one of your greatest business assets.
BuyaCar financing options
The Transit Custom is plentiful and of great value as a used vehicle. Around £16,000 should be enough for a three or four year old L1 model with 60,000 miles or so on the odometer. That equates to monthly payments
of £243 on a four year hire purchase agreement with a £3,000 deposit. Since you become the owner of the van once the final monthly payment is made, you are free to keep, trade in or sell it at the end of the contract.
2. Volkswagen Transporter
The VW Transporter is almost as familiar on British roads as the Transit. But while the Ford spends most of its time getting its hands dirty, the coveted and fashionable German car will be used just as well as a family-friendly MPV, laid-back surf van, or cool RV if it’s a hard-working business tool.
3. Renault Traffic
If you’re looking for a roomy, no-nonsense panel van, the Trafic ticks a lot of boxes. There are plenty of models left, and Renault released several special editions with more kit. As with the Transit Custom, there are two lengths and two roof heights, and the large, square load area offers plenty of usable space. Although a 1.6 dCi may seem small, the 138 hp twin-turbo version packs a surprising punch.
4. Nissan e-NV200
Before you switch to an electric van, check your daily mileage to see if it fits your working life. Travel less than 124 miles? The e-NV200 is worth considering. This is the van’s minimum claimed range and Nissan has the largest cargo space in its class. Used prices are very tempting, but make sure the van you want comes with a battery rather than an expensive rental arrangement.
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