A large number of fleets do not require the volume and load capacity provided by panel vans with a gross vehicle weight of 3.5 tonnes, despite these being the most commonly selected models in a light commercial fleet.
“A mixed fleet, with a number of 3.5-tonners to tackle the big jobs and smaller vans being utilised where appropriate, might be a more suitable answer for many fleet managers,” said George Alexander, chief commercial vehicle editor at EurotaxGlass’s.
“This approach would lower a company’s initial financial outlay, result in stronger residual values, give drivers a pleasant working environment, use less fuel and bring operating efficiencies for well-run fleets.”
Payloads can vary significantly from one large panel van to the next: the highest is currently 1,590kg while the lowest is just 1,369kg.
Moreover, vehicles are continuing to gain weight as manufacturers load them with features to enhance safety, practicality and comfort.
On certain new models payloads have dropped by almost a quarter of a tonne compared to their predecessors.
“It is ever more important that businesses thoroughly consider their vehicle mix options, in order to ensure that their vehicles are up to the tasks required,” said Mr Alexander.
“Enforcement of weight limits and other rules for operating commercial vehicles is now taken very seriously, with substantial fines for any British business that is caught breaking the rules.
“While shrinking payloads pose problems, users also need to be educated about the need to calculate the weight of their goods to ensure that axles are not over-laden.
"Additionally, many operators do not know how to properly distribute weight in their vehicles, which presents unnecessary risks.”