Top Issues Caused By Overweight Commercial Vans & Service Trucks

Gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR) and payloads can differ from vehicle to vehicle and it’s important to know what you’re working with when specifying or upfitting a specific heavy duty pickup truck. Before we get into the details of why it’s important to pay attention to vehicle weight ratings, let’s go over some important concepts: GVWR and Payload.

What is GVWR?

GVWR is the vehicle’s total maximum operating weight, including the vehicle’s body, chassis, engine, fluids, equipment, accessories, cargo and passengers, excluding the weight of any trailers. It is important to know what you’re working with when specifying or upfitting a specific commercial van or truck. According to AboutAutos.com, gross vehicle weight rating is the vehicle’s maximum safe weight that should not be exceeded. A vehicle’s GVWR never changes.

What is Payload?

Payload capacity is how much weight a vehicle can carry. It is calculated by taking the vehicle’s GVWR and subtracting the vehicle’s curb weight. For example, if a vehicle’s GVWR is listed at 10,000 lb, and the vehicle’s weight is 7,500 lb, then the vehicle’s payload capacity is 2,500 lb. This means the vehicle can carry 2,500 lb of weight in the way of equipment, accessories, cargo, and passengers.

What’s Wrong With Extra Weight On Heavy Duty Pickup Trucks?

The National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) published a report, Understanding the Consequences of Driving Overloaded Vehicles, which outlines the risks, costs and safety issues associated with overloaded vehicles and the consequences that can affect drivers and business owners.

Three top issues included maintenance, drivability, and risk and liability. Let’s dive deeper into each of these concerns:

1. Maintenance

As vehicles become heavier, and overweight, their components and equipment become more stressed, causing premature wear and tear. With increased wear and tear comes increased maintenance costs and additional downtime due to failing and broken components and equipment.

2. Drivability

The drivability of a vehicle is impacted when it is overweight. Stopping, steering, maneuvering, and speed control can all be affected. Firstly, an overweight vehicle will take more distance to come to a halt, and drivers can easily misjudge the distance required to come to a safe stop. Secondly, a vehicle’s steering is also impacted, making it more challenging to safely maneuver the vehicle. Lastly, an overweight vehicle can easily pick up speed on a decline, and this excess speed can be difficult to control, which leads back to decreased maneuverability and difficulties stopping in time.

3. Risk & Liability

There are many risks surrounding operating heavy and overweight vehicles, and operators and business owners need to consider each scenario carefully.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), all commercial drivers of vehicles in interstate commerce with a maximum gross vehicle weight rating of over 10,000 lb are required to obtain and maintain a valid Medical Examiner’s (ME) Certificate. Failing to have the proper certification and driver’s license requirements can put a driver’s ability to legally drive at risk. Driving an overweight vehicle can also lead to impoundment, which is a great inconvenience and cost for business owners.

The monetary consequences of driving an overweight vehicle can be costly, with state laws varying. For example, according to Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, fines for on-the-road weight violations range from $100 to $10,000 for first time offenders. Fines double on subsequent violations within a year.

And in the worst-case scenario where there’s an accident involving a vehicle found to be overweight that results in a fatality, some states can find the driver to be criminally responsible and charged with manslaughter, resulting in jailtime.

To summarize the issues surrounding GVWR, and the potential consequences of operating overweight vehicles:

  • Driver’s license requirements may be at risk
  • Business operations may be affected
  • Monetary fines may be imposed
  • Criminal charges can be applied
  • Prison time can be sentenced

2022 Heavy Duty Pickup Truck GVWR Comparison Chart

We’ve put together a handy chart showing the GVWR and payload capacity of some of the most popular 2022 heavy duty pickup trucks. This chart can be used as a starting point for planning out equipment and accessories for pickup trucks, or for double-checking weights to ensure your truck isn’t dangerously overweight.

Make/Model (Crew Cab, Standard Bed)GVWR (Maximum)*Payload (Maximum)*
Ford Super Duty F-250 XL10,600 lb (4,808 kg)3,650 lb (1,655 kg)
Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD11,150 lb (5,058 kg)4,517 lb (2,049 kg)
GMC Sierra 2500HD10,800 lb (4,899 kg)4,448 lbs (2,018 kg)
RAM 2500 Tradesman10,000 lb (4,535 kg)4,010 lb (1,819 kg)
*Values are estimates only, based on basic trim package and referred from vehicle manufacturer websites. For accurate technical specifications, refer directly to vehicle manufacturer documentation.

2022 Commercial Vans GVWR Comparison Chart

Make & Model (Low/Standard Roof, Regular Length)GVWR (Maximum)*Payload (Maximum)*
RAM ProMaster 35009,350 lb (4,241 kg)4,680 lb (2,123 kg)
RAM ProMaster 25008,900 lb (4,036 kg)4,260 lb (3,084 kg)
Ford Transit 3509,500 lb (4,309 kg)4,515 lb (2,048 kg)
Ford Transit 1508,670 lb (3,933 kg)3,685 lb (1671 kg)
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 450012,125 (5,500 kg)6,768 lb (3,070 kg)
Chevrolet Express9,900 lb (4,491 kg)4,280 lb (1,941 kg)
*Values are estimates only, based on basic trim package and referred from vehicle manufacturer websites. For accurate technical specifications, refer directly to vehicle manufacturer documentation.

FMCSA Regulations Apply Over 10,000 lb

All commercial drivers of vehicles that perform interstate work in the USA and have a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 lb or more are required to follow Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. These regulations are enforced by the Department of Transportation (DOT), and are outlined in Title 49, Chapter III, Parts 300 to 399 of the Code of Federal Regulations—an exhausting 734-page document of rules that must be followed.

FMCSA has many regulations for overweight commercial vehicles. For example, interstate drivers must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Possess a DOT Medical Examiner certificate
  • Obtain and display a USDOT number
  • Follow Hours of Service requirements
  • Maintain proper records
    • Pre- and post-trip inspections
    • Accident reports
    • Vehicle maintenance records
  • Receive an annual inspection
  • And more…

Individual states set their own intrastate commercial vehicle regulations, but these regulations tend to be similar to the interstate guidelines. For example, 37 states require a DOT Medical Examiner certificate, while most include reporting, inspection, accident recording, and hours of service rules.

For many operators, the easiest way to avoid the hassle and paperwork of FMCSA regulations is to ensure their vehicle has a GVWR that is consistently under 10,000 lb. While most commercial vans fall into this category, the majority of heavy-duty pickup trucks do not.

Summary of GVWR Issues

To recap the issues and most important information surrounding GVWR:

  • GVWR never changes.
  • Additional regulations apply for commercial vans over 10,000 lb.
    • Inspections, driver requirements, record keeping, and more.
  • Monetary fines may be imposed.
  • Prison time and criminal charges are possible.
  • Business operations will likely be affected.

With these important issues in mind, it makes sense to reduce the weight of vans by purchasing low-weight vehicles and incorporating the lightest components possible.

Sourcing Lightweight Equipment For Your Service Vehicles

With these important issues in mind, it makes sense to reduce the weight of service vehicles by incorporating the lightest components possible. Choosing truck upfitters with experience light-weighting and sourcing equipment that saves hundreds of pounds, for example, can take a lot of the stress out of building a new, lightweight service vehicle.

VMAC air compressors and multi-power systems are known in the industry for being lightweight. The UNDERHOOD™ 150 helped Suez North America go from a 1,000 lb diesel drive air compressor, to a 200 lb UNDERHOOD™ air compressor. VMAC’s DTM70-H underdeck PTO drive air compressor saved Fanelli Equipment Repair 500 lb, even allowing owner-operator Phil Fanelli to downsize from a Peterbilt truck with 14-ft service body to a Ford F-550.

Related blogs:

Best Service Truck Air Compressors for 2022

9 Reasons To Ditch Your Tow-Behind Air Compressor

Choosing An Air Compressor For Your Commercial Van In 2022

Commercial van sales have been on the rise for the last few years, as fleet managers revise their vehicle needs, and opt for vans over trucks. For many industries, vans provide the right amount of cargo space without the added bulk and price associated with larger work trucks.

In this article, we cover two primary topics:

Note: If you’re strictly interested in air compressors for service vans, click the link above to jump to the air compressors section below!

Vans offer a variety of attractive benefits, including a reduced environmental footprint, lower fuel consumption, better cargo organization, theft and weather protection, and easy driving and maneuvering. In some cases, vans even offer more payload than some light-duty pick-up trucks.

Ford transit van

New Work Van Opportunities for Fleet Managers

New commercial van models have entered or will soon be entering the North American market for 2022. These vans are causing fleet managers and business owners to take a fresh approach to application possibilities including plumbers, handymen, construction contractors, mobile mechanics, and mobile tire service technicians.

European-style vans are fuel efficient, have a tremendous amount of cargo space, and allow operators to secure their equipment, making them a practical and efficient service vehicle solution. Here are a few of the European-style service van opportunities for this year:

The Ford Transit

The 2022 Ford Transit is available with a 3.5L PFDi V6 gas engine with 275 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, or a 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine with 310 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. The Transit is also available in three body lengths, two wheelbases, and three roof heights. The Transit has a rear-wheel-drive layout, but its engine layout is perhaps a little more innovative than the competition, mostly due to the EcoBoost engines.

The Ford Transit Connect

Available with a 2L GDI I-4 gas engine, the Ford Transit Connect is a smaller option for those doing lots of city driving and not requiring a tremendous amount of space or power. It is the minivan option of the commercial van market.

The Ford E-Transit

Ford’s brand-new electric Transit van has the potential to be a true market disrupter. The fully electric e-Transit van is available in three body lengths and three roof heights, as well as chassis cab and cutaway models. The E-Transit is the most spacious 2022 van model available with 277.7 cubic feet of cargo space. The E-Transit is a versatile and compelling new option that is likely to become popular in the years that follow.

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Currently available with a 2.0L I4 turbo diesel (161 hp/265 lb-ft), a 3.0L V6 turbo diesel (188 hp/325 lb-ft), or a 2.4L I4 gas engine (188 hp/258 lb-ft); Mercedes has announced the 2022 models will come in 114, 140, 170, and 190 horsepower models, but final specs have yet to be released at the time of writing.

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has the highest available roof at 111 inches (almost 10 feet), barely beating out the high roof Transit. The Sprinter also has the longest available body at 290 inches, compared to the Transit at 264 inches, ProMaster at 213 inches, and Savana at 244 inches.

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is also available in a four-wheel drive option. For good ground clearance, a 4×4 Sprinter sits about 4 inches higher than a 4×2 model. The Sprinter retains a higher-quality interior than most cargo vans, with highly refined powertrains, although this quality comes at a premium price point.

The GMC Savana

Available with a Vortec 4.3L V6 (276 hp/298 lb-ft) or 6.6L V8 (401 hp/464 lb-ft) gas engine, or a Duramax 2.8L turbo diesel engine (161 hp/369 lb-ft), the GMC Savana provides loads of power and can tow up to 10,000 lb in tow/haul mode which reduces excessive gear-shifting.

It is equipped with numerous additional features, including pro access lift panels, heated mirrors, built-in Wi-fi hotspot, and Stabilitrack with traction control.

The RAM ProMaster

This full-size van is available with a 3.6L V6 gas (280 hp/260 lb-ft), or, 3.0L I4 turbo diesel (174 hp/295 lb-ft) and is primarily configured for commercial duty. RAM believes that by placing the bulk of the ProMaster’s mechanical components ahead of the cargo area it makes up-fitting for commercial needs easier in most cases.

Available with an 88-inch roof height, the ProMaster cutaway and chassis cab models can handle a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 11,500 pounds.

RAM Promaster Van lineup

Current Trends in Commercial Van Upfitting

Several trends are impacting how people choose between commercial vans and what features they prioritize in a vehicle upgrade.

“We’ve definitely noticed an uptick of some customers switching from pickup trucks to vans because there is more choice now, especially with the new small vans and euro-style full-size vans that have entered the market the past few years,” said Jay Cowie, product manager at Ranger Design, a commercial van upfit manufacturer based in Ontario, New York.

Trend #1: Rightsizing The Van To The Job

“Fleets are taking a more strategic approach to their business, focused on selecting the right-size van because now there’s more choice,” said Cowie. “Customers aren’t stuck with a one-size-fits-all van, which may be inefficient for certain applications. With greater choice, they can more effectively tailor vehicle selection to increase efficiencies and lower operational costs.”

Trend #2: Taking Weight Out

“Because some of the new vans are bigger and taller with more cargo area, you can fit a lot more gear in it,” said Cowie. “And the more stuff in the van, comes more weight, which increases the risk of overloading the van. So, we’re seeing a shift toward using lighter-weight materials in upfits to increase legal payload capacity.”

Trend #3: Higher Demand For Ergonomic Upfits

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) — typically caused by awkward movements, heavy lifting, and repetitive motion — account for 34 percent of all lost workdays, which can get very expensive for employers. So, a growing number of fleet managers are looking to equip their vehicles with upfits that improve ergonomics to protect their technicians’ health and their organization’s bottom line.

“[At Adrian Steel], we start by observing how the [technicians] do their work, so we can create a process flow of the types of equipment they need to access most often and what they need less often,” said Jeff Langley, fleet account executive at Adrian Steel, a manufacturer of commercial van accessories and truck equipment, headquartered in Adrian, Michigan. “We’ll then design an upfit system that positions those high-use items where they can be accessed quickly and easily, so workers can be more safe and productive when performing their job.”

Trend #4: Increased Demand For Mobile Power

“We’re seeing a trend toward fleets wanting van interiors that offer a more productive mobile workplace, with increased demand for power ports to run laptops, charge mobile devices, and operate electric tools,” said Jeff Langley with Adrian Steel. At VMAC, we’re seeing similar growth in demand for air power in vans – for fleets that traditionally use pickups or service body trucks to run high-powered air tools, such as impact guns for removing large lug nuts in a mobile tire service application.

Reducing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

When switching to these Euro-style vans, the goal isn’t just controlling costs, but also increasing productivity. For example, fleet managers want to add customers by increasing the number of jobs done per day but keep lower operating costs available on commercial vans.

For businesses, the trend has been shifting away from focusing on up-front acquisition costs to lowering the total cost of ownership over the life cycle of a vehicle. Fleet managers are no longer basing their purchasing decisions solely on the acquisition cost. In today’s economy, every dollar counts.

Many fleets are now realizing the value in investing the time and energy in researching the best long-term option for their business. They’re taking a closer look at the real cost of ownership and all that the vehicle purchase entails – not just the purchase of the vehicle itself, but all of the lifecycle costs associated with the vehicle, including equipment such as air compressors.

Air Compressors For Commercial Vans

UNDERHOOD for vansWhen making purchasing decisions, more commercial van customers are considering TCO over the lifetime of their vehicle. They are prioritizing ease of up-fit and customization options, proven powertrain options, and strong dealer networks. One of the most frustrating up-fit items with commercial vans is the air compressor.

Until recently, fleets were limited to two options:

  • An electric drive air compressor that takes up too much valuable cargo space, is underpowered, and not designed for commercial work.
  • A gas drive reciprocating air compressor which takes up even more space, is heavy and is known to cause heat damage in the interior of vans. Further, these types of compressors cause safety issues due to exhaust fumes not being properly ventilated, and gas tanks being filled inside the cargo area. Additionally, if the gas drive air compressor is designed to be portable, with a wheel-barrow style chassis, then this opens the operator to potential lifting injuries.

But a better type of air compressor, the UNDERHOOD40,  has been designed specifically for service vans. Custom engineered for each van engine and chassis by VMAC, the UNDERHOOD40 is available for most Ford and Mercedes vans. These incredibly compact air compressors weigh only 85 lb, are easy to install, and have the power to fill a 11R24.5 commercial truck tire in just over 3.5 minutes. Best of all, the UNDERHOOD40 eliminates common frustrations and safety issues of other air compressors used in commercials vans.

Eliminate Safety Risks With Air Compressors Made For Service Vans

There are several options available when considering an air compressor for a service van, but many options are truck solutions modified to fit inside vans. Installing a traditional air compressor inside of a van can cause many issues, as these compressors can be bulky and heavy, reducing available cargo space and payload capacity. More importantly, these air compressors compromise operator safety, and can be dangerous if important precautions are overlooked.

Commercial VanMobile air compressors are an excellent example of equipment made for trucks that aren’t always safe for vans. Depending on how they are installed, air compressors in commercial vans can:

  • Expose operators to concentrated toxic fumes
  • Result in heavy-lifting injuries
  • Cause falls by forcing workers to stand on precarious surfaces
  • Cause the van to explode

Yes, explode. Air compressors installed too close to fabrics or other flammable materials inside a commercial van can catch on fire and cause the vehicle to explode. It’s an extremely rare occurrence, but nobody wants to be the person who experiences it.

Fortunately, all the accidents listed above are preventable with the right air compressor system—one that doesn’t simply stick a truck’s air compressor in the cargo area. Instead, choose an air compressor that was made just for vans.

As previously discussed, VMAC has developed an air compressor for service vans that is installed in the engine compartment, away from the operator and cargo. This UNDERHOOD40 eliminates the risk of toxic fumes, fires, explosions, heavy lifting injuries, and falls, all in one go.

See the UNDERHOOD™ air compressor in action on the Cullen Diesel van:

Protect Profits With Employee Safety

Now we’ll take a step back and talk about why keeping employees safe and using the right air compressor is simply good business practice. Even businesses that don’t prioritize safety still care about profits.

Job site injuries caused by air compressors or other equipment can quickly become the single most costly line item for any business. Injuries themselves cost money to fix, but the expenses don’t end there. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has revealed that job site accidents have significant indirect costs that most businesses don’t account for.

Let’s look at the direct and indirect costs of a few injuries, according to OSHA:

InjuryDirect CostIndirect CostTotal Cost
Fracture$54,856$60,341$115,197
Respiratory Disorders$41,013$45,114$86,127
Crushing$67,003$73,703$140,706
Sprain$30,487$33,535$64,022
Strain$32,023$35,225$67,248
Burn$47,192$51,911$99,103
Vision Loss$75,885$83,473$159,358

Direct and indirect costs add up, quickly transforming a bad situation into an even worse situation. It can take months or years for a business to financially recover from the expense of a serious injury. Businesses often underestimate this expense, forgetting to include indirect costs.

Common indirect costs are:

  • Filing a Worker’s Compensation claim
  • Lost days of productivity
  • Legal costs
  • Hiring and training a replacement worker
  • Repairing damaged property
  • Accident investigation and corrective action implementation
  • Insurance maintenance

Less obvious indirect costs include:

  • Schedule delays
  • Added administrative time
  • Decreased morale
  • Increased absenteeism
  • Poorer customer relations
  • Hits to company reputation
  • Ability to bid on future jobs

The best way to eliminate these costs is to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place. Choosing the right type of equipment for service vans is one way that can be done.

The Bottom Line

Commercial vans have become a popular service vehicle option and it’s clear they are here to stay. OEMs like Ford are now investing in the development of electric vans, such as the E-transit, cementing a future for service vans in the marketplace.

Fleet managers and business owners have a lot to consider when choosing a commercial van for their fleet including:

  • Rightsizing the vehicle to the job
  • Reducing weight
  • Ergonomic interior designs
  • Eliminating safety issues
  • Choosing the right equipment, including air compressors

Starting with the right commercial van and air compressor combination can help make this process a bit simpler, while improving productivity and protecting profits and employees.

UNDERHOOD for vans

Truck Mounted Rotary Screw Air Compressors For Service Vehicles (2021)

Mobile air compressor technology has improved rapidly in recent years and operators have more options today than in the past. There are two primary categories of truck mounted rotary screw air compressors that operators can choose between:

  1. Above-deck air compressors
  2. Vehicle integrated air compressors

Both above-deck and vehicle integrated air compressors provide mobile air and power. Rotary screw technology allows this air to be delivered on demand, at 100% duty cycle. This duty cycle ensures a continuous stream of air is available whenever the air compressor is turned on.

In this article, we’ll go over the types of above-deck air compressors and vehicle integrated air compressors available for service trucks.

Above-Deck Truck Mounted Air Compressors

G30 gas driven air compressor

G30 gas driven air compressor

Above-deck rotary screw air compressors are systems that can easily be mounted onto a service truck, skid, or trailer. They are securely bolted into place and then ready to use. These are the mobile air compressors that most people are familiar with because they are highly visible on many service vehicles.

Above-deck truck mounted air compressors use one of three types of power:

  1. Gas
  2. Diesel
  3. Hydraulic

Most operators choose their truck mounted air compressor based on the fuel or power options that are already on their truck. Operators who have trucks with hydraulic cranes tend to favor hydraulic air compressors. For trucks without hydraulics, it’s most convenient to match the air compressor to the vehicle’s existing fuel type.

hydraulic-mounted

If the fuel types match, you may also choose to plumb the air compressor to the vehicle’s existing fuel tank. While this type of integration is slightly more complicated than a typical above-deck installation, it is extremely convenient because fueling up your vehicle will also fuel up your air compressor.

Vehicle Integrated Air Compressors

Vehicle integrated air compressors are innovative solutions that are mounted in the truck’s engine compartment or under the deck. Operators love these systems because they don’t take up any space on the vehicle deck, they save a lot of weight, and their size to power ratio makes them downright awesome.

UNDERHOOD™ 70 mounted to engine

UNDERHOOD™ 70 mounted to engine

Currently, vehicle integrated air compressors use one of two power options:

  1. Vehicle engine
  2. PTO

There is currently one option on the market for vehicle engine mounted air compressors: the UNDERHOOD™ air compressor, manufactured by VMAC. It is the only air compressor in North America that mounts directly to a vehicle engine, drawing power from the truck.

UNDERHOOD™ air compressors are designed for specific Ford, RAM, GMC/Chevrolet, Mercedes/Freightliner and International vehicles, because of the incredible size and space limitations within the engine compartment. Each system has to be carefully engineered for the specific vehicle it will be mounted to. They also require an experienced service truck dealer to install. Fortunately, once installed, UNDERHOOD™ air compressors are a convenient, low-maintenance air power solution.

DTM70-RAM-Install-Render

Direct-Transmission Mounted air compressor on a RAM transmission

PTO-driven air compressors are the primary alternative to UNDERHOOD™ air compressors. PTO-driven air compressors use a PTO mounted on the transmission PTO port to power the system. VMAC offers the world’s only direct-transmission mounted air compressor, which means it mounts directly to the transmission with minimal moving parts.

Direct-Transmission Mounted air compressor on a RAM transmission

However, alternative designs use shafts to connect the PTO to the air compressor. Shaft driven air compressors allow air compressor manufacturers to use larger compressor components, while still drawing power from the PTO. PTO shaft driven air compressors have their drawbacks but can still be a decent solution in the right scenario.

What Truck Mounted Air Compressor Is Right For You?

Deciding on the right truck mounted air compressor for your vehicle can be overwhelming. Many choices come down to preference, availability, and pricing. Do some research to determine your preferred style of air compressor and then talk to an experienced dealer about the best fit for your vehicle.

Ready for the next step? Learn more about VMAC’s truck mounted rotary screw air compressors or find a local dealer in your area!


ON-DEMAND WEBINAR: VMAC PRODUCT INTRO
Find out how VMAC’s air compressors and multi-power systems are helping fleets across North America work more profitably and productively.

Watch the free on-demand webinar now!


Cullen Diesel Chooses Mercedes-Benz 4×4 Sprinter Van Over Service Truck

Over the next few weeks we’ll be publishing a three-part blog series centered around Cullen Diesel, the Detroit Diesel and MTU distributor for BC. Cullen Diesel mechanics are factory trained and certified in Detroit Diesel and Mercedes engines, with experience in working with all types of diesel engines, including those in the marine, mining, construction and industrial sectors.

Dennis Miskow Cullen Diesel

Dennis Miskow, Branch Manager of Cullen Diesel’s Vancouver Island, BC operations

Dennis Miskow is the Branch Manager of Cullen Diesel’s Vancouver Island, BC operations. Dennis’ career with Cullen started over 20 years ago, when he was first hired as an apprentice heavy-duty mechanic. Dennis sat down with VMAC to discuss Cullen’s fleet, and his decision to add a commercial van to his fleet.

Choosing the Right Vehicle for Your Business: Commercial Van or Service Truck?

When it was time to add a new service vehicle to his fleet of 7 to replace an aging truck, Dennis went straight to his truck builder. “I spec’d out a truck with a crane and was ready to place the order. It was going to cost about $150k, so I decided to compare it to the cost of a commercial van. The van ended up being half the price.” Because of the significant savings, Dennis decided to explore commercial van options. “We chose the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter over the other vans because the Sprinter comes in a 4×4 option, which is necessary when we’re travelling to jobs in remote locations,” says Dennis.

Service Van Benefits

Cullen Service VanThough the additional draw to the service van option was cost, Dennis was aware of other benefits that come with having a van instead of a truck. “The van is a smaller vehicle, which makes it easier to drive and maneuver. We do service jobs right at the docks, so the van is the best option for driving to these marine applications,” notes Dennis. The Cullen Diesel Branch Manager also appreciates the extra level of protection from theft and the elements the enclosed space of the van offers: “Tools and equipment are kept safe inside the van from theft, but also from rain, sleet, ice, and snow. My team also appreciates the enclosed area to store and organize their tools instead of standing around the outside of the truck in all types of weather.” In addition to the cost, size and maneuverability, and enclosed protection from theft and the weather, the van acts as a moving billboard for Cullen as there’s much more advertising space on the van’s body.

Proven in Challenging Applications

UNDERHOOD for vansHaving never had a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or any type of service van on his fleet before, Dennis did have some concerns about how it would hold up in challenging applications. Cullen Diesel services a lot of equipment found in remote areas, often requiring their vehicles to travel in mountainous areas up logging roads. “I wasn’t sure how the van would be able to make it up the logging roads, even though the Sprinter is a 4×4. But on its first service it drove easily up to the job site, right behind the trucks. Even our logging customers were impressed!” shares Dennis. Another concern was how long the Sprinter van would hold up in these challenging, dirty and demanding applications. “You see a lot of vans used as delivery vehicles, driving on the roads, but we weren’t sure how it would hold up after continuously being tested on trails and logging roads,” says Dennis. But fast forward to years later, and Dennis confirms he no longer has any worries: “It’s been three years and we haven’t had any problems with the van.”

Overall, the decision to add a commercial van to the Cullen Diesel fleet has had a positive impact on Dennis’ operations. “We’re looking to add another vehicle to the fleet and I want to get another van,” says Dennis.

Subscribe to the VMAC Blog to continue reading about Cullen Diesel’s experience with a service van, and the specialized equipment that it comes with. In part two of this series, which will be released next, Dennis will give insight into his decision to choose an UNDERHOOD™ 40 Van Series Air Compressor instead of a standalone gas drive air compressor for his Sprinter.

Related blogs:

UNDERHOOD for vans banner

Commercial Van Market Growth Creates New Equipment Opportunities

Commercial van sales data from the NTEA (National Truck Equipment Association) reveals that commercial van sales continue to trend upwards, with each year surpassing the sales numbers from the year before. Between 2013 and 2019, commercial van sales increased by 56.7%.

Total Van Sales in North America
2013: 224,723
2014: 239,646
2015: 282,216
2016: 292,096
2017: 301,349
2018: 317,163
2019: 352,288

With all this consistent growth, it’s understandable that vehicle manufacturers have expanded their offerings, presenting buyers with different commercial and cargo van options including van chassis, height, engines, and drive trains. Manufacturers of commercial vehicle equipment have expanded their product lines as well, with equipment designed specifically for commercial cargo vans.

But why are commercial vans rising in popularity? Let’s look at how we got here.

A QUICK HISTORY OF THE COMMERCIAL VAN INDUSTRY

Back in 2007-2008, the recession forced many businesses to make substantial changes or risk forever closing their doors. But the companies that managed to adapt were stronger, finding innovative ways to revolutionize the industry.

Ford and GM reinvented themselves and came out of the recession by adapting their vehicle lines to meet new market demands. The manufacturers looked to Europe and saw the timely opportunity to bring Euro-style commercial vans to North America.

Commercial vans cater to business owners and fleet managers looking to “right-size” their fleets to achieve maximum efficiency and profit—a winning formula for conquering a recession. Vans offer more cargo space, easy maneuverability, and better fuel efficiency, all at a lower price than traditional trucks.

The recession eventually ended but commercial vans were here to stay.

TYPES OF COMMERCIAL VANS: STANDARD VANS, HIGH ROOF VANS

Over the past decade, commercial vans have increased in popularity in North America. Their popularity surged in 2012 and has been steadily rising since. The National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) has defined 5 OEMs as manufacturers of commercial vans:

  • Ford
  • GM
  • Mercedes-Benz/Freightliner
  • FCA – Ram
  • Nissan

Commercial vans can be defined as both passenger vans (shuttles or taxis), or cargo vans, with two seats in the front and cargo space in the back. In addition, commercial vans can be segmented as standard roof vans or high roof vans.

High roof vans allow for people to stand up in the back of the cargo area—this segment of commercial vans is responsible for the surge in popularity over recent years. High-roof van sales more than doubled between 2015 and 2019.

US_Mexico_Commercial_Van_Sales

If the current trend continues, 2020 may be the year that high roof vans overtake standard roof vans in sales. According to the NTEA’s Commercial Van Overview and Market Data Insights report, “From 2013–2018, standard roof-height models dominated the market. Throughout that period, high roof-height model sales grew faster than standard roof-height. For 2019, Class 1–3 standard roof-height sales were still greater than high roof-height sales, but the balance shifted in the second half of the year. From July–December 2019, high roof-height sales were greater than standard roof-height.”

VMAC VAN SERIES AIR COMPRESSOR: THE ONLY AIR COMPRESSOR SPECIFICALLY ENGINEERED FOR COMMERCIAL VANS

Though there’s increased opportunity and demand for a mobile air compressor for commercial vans, air compressor manufacturers have been slow to adapt their products for this popular style of commercial vehicle.

Many compressor manufacturers can only offer vehicle upfitters the option to put a standalone gas or diesel unit in the cargo area of their customer’s van. This solution not only takes up valuable space in the cargo area, but it also creates an unsafe working environment for operators, who are exposed to toxic fumes and the risk of gas fires.

Another option is a low cost, low output electric air compressor driven off an inverter. The downside to this option is that it is not designed for commercial applications, producing only a small amount of air for short periods of time.

 

UNDERHOOD for vans

There is, however, a better alternative: the UNDERHOOD™ 40 Van Series Air Compressor. The VMAC Van Series Air Compressor is the only air compressor specifically engineered for commercial vans. This desirable option frees up to 10 cubic feet in the van cargo area, reduces vehicle GVW by almost 300 pounds, eliminates common safety issues, and can produce up to 40 CFM at 100% duty cycle.

The UNDERHOOD™ 40 – Van Series is a must-have for anyone who is looking to upfit their cargo van with an air compressor. For vehicle bodybuilders and upfitters, this air compressor is available for the Ford Transit, Ford Transit Connect, GM Savana G Series and Express, and the Mercedes-Benz / Freightliner Sprinter.

Learn more about VMAC’s Van Series Air Compressor.

Related blogs:

5 Reasons to Choose An UNDERHOOD™ Air Compressor For Your Work Van

Over the last decade, the popularity of commercial vans has steadily grown, as fleet managers and business owners look for cost-savings and improved efficiency in their vehicles. Many companies offer different outfitting options specific to vans, including shelving, storage boxes, tools, and accessories. In the case of air compressors, there are several different solutions, but only one air compressor has been specifically engineered for commercial vans, and that’s the UNDERHOOD™ 40 Van Series Air Compressor. Continue reading “5 Reasons to Choose An UNDERHOOD™ Air Compressor For Your Work Van”

Air Compressor Options For Service Vans (2022)

Service van operators who need an air compressor have one of two options—a vehicle-integrated air compressor that mounts in their engine compartment, or traditional air compressors that mount in the cargo area.

UNDERHOOD™ Air Compressors For Vans

Underhood40-mountedIf vehicle weight is a concern, and commercial van payload is limited, you can choose equipment that not only reduces vehicle weight, but also frees up space, maximizes operator productivity, and eliminates common safety issues.

VMAC has engineered the UNDERHOOD™ 40, a 40 CFM rotary screw air compressor that mounts in the engine compartment on the most popular commercial vans. This is the only air compressor in the world with this capability and it has revolutionized mobile air for service vans.

Common applications that use UNDERHOOD™ 40 air compressors are:

  • Tire servicing
  • Utility/Telecom servicing
  • Forklift repair
  • Light duty contractors using small air tools

Common air tools that are powered by UNDERHOOD™ 40 air compressors are:

  • 3/4“ impact wrench
  • Light chipping hammers
  • Die grinders
  • Tire inflation

Traditional air compressors mounted in the van’s cargo area can weigh as much as 375 lb, while UNDERHOOD™ 40 CFM air compressors weigh only 85 lbs. This means, by using a VMAC air compressor, you reduce as much as 290 lb in vehicle weight, and gain capacity for more tools and equipment.

Working closely with leading van manufacturers, VMAC ensures that mounting kits do not affect OEM warranties.

Cargo-Mounted Air Compressors For Vans

Mounting a traditional air compressor in the cargo area is the other air compressor option for service vans. If you work with service vans, you’re probably already familiar with this solution, in which operators take an existing electric drive or gas drive air compressor and bolt it into the back of their service van.

Cargo-mounted air compressors offer a straightforward solution, and allow operators to choose from a wide range of existing reciprocating and rotary screw air compressors. It’s a popular solution. However, traditional air compressors weren’t built with service vans in mind, and there are several drawbacks:

Reduced Cargo Space

If you work out of a service van, you already know your cargo space is limited. Traditional air compressors are space hogs, taking up a significant amount of space that could be used as a workspace or to store additional tools and equipment.

Limited Power

Electric drive air compressors are a popular solution for service vans but they’re limited in power. Most electric air compressors on the market today are not suitable for commercial work and don’t have the power required for modern air tools.

Toxic Fumes & Gas Spills

Vans with gas driven air compressors require adequate ventilation to eliminate the build-up of toxic fumes. Most service vans don’t have the airflow or space required to disperse these fumes, which presents a very real hazard to operators. The longer an air compressor runs inside the van, the larger the risk to anyone in the vicinity.

Further, gas driven air compressors require operators to fuel up their air compressor inside the cargo area. Spilled gas results in toxic fumes and presents an unnecessary fire hazard.

Choosing An Air Compressor For Your Service Van

Operators ultimately have three choices when considering air compressors for service vans:

  1. Electric drive (cargo-mounted)
  2. Gas drive (cargo-mounted)
  3. UNDERHOOD (engine-mounted)

The right option will depend on your budget, space requirements, weight limitations, and general regard for safety. Consider your options carefully and talk with a trusted vehicle upfitter when making your decision.

Commercial Van Education

Interest in commercial vans to replace traditional service trucks continues to grow. Sales figures provided by the NTEA (National Truck Equipment Association) show it’s a trend that is not fading. Growth has been sustained over about a 5-year period, and the reasons for this are clear. Continue reading “Commercial Van Education”