Personal Vs. Commercial Vans: What to Know Before Buying or Renting

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If the time ever comes that you need a van, you’re going to have a big decision to make: buy or rent. There are many factors you’ll need to consider before you can make a well-informed decision. It’s also not a decision you can rush since the costs of motor vehicles have gotten so high.

 

The following paragraphs, we’ll discuss some key aspects about personal versus commercial vans that you need to consider. We’ll compare and contrasts the characteristics of each, how pricing will impact your decision, and help you make an informed decision about whether to buy or rent a van.

 

Personal Vs. Commercial: Understanding the Difference

The first thing to understand is what classifies as a personal van versus a commercial van. Any van can be considered a personal or commercial vehicle. It depends on who it’s registered to and what it’s used for.

 

Personal Vans

A personal van is any vehicle which you use for own pursuits. Personal vans are registered to private citizens instead of businesses and organizations. Some example models of vans typically geared towards personal use include:

 

  • Chevrolet Venture
  • Toyota Sienna
  • Honda Odyssey
  • KIA Sedona
  • Chrysler Pacifica

 

Commercial Vans

Commercial vans are registered to businesses or organizations, rather than individuals. They are used either for transporting goods, carrying eight or more passengers for compensation, or carrying 15 passengers, including the driver, without compensation. Typical models of commercial vans you might encounter include:

 

  • Ford Transit
  • Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
  • Chevrolet Express
  • Nissan NV
  • Volkswagen Transporter

 

Characteristics

Before you decide to rent or buy, you need to know some of the different characteristics of a typical personal versus a typical commercial van.

 

Size

Normally a personal van is designed to carry between six and eight passengers. While not as big as commercial vans, they do tend to be larger than standards cars. Common models range anywhere from 15 to 18 ft. long, and 7 to 9 ft. tall

 

Commercial vans, by contrast, are designed for eight or more passengers. They are often the biggest model vans on the market. They range anywhere from 18 to 21 ft. long, and 7 to 10 ft. tall.

 

Gas

Vans are not known for enjoying a great MPG rating, especially compared to newer hybrid and electric model cars. You can expect that a personal van will range anywhere from 15 to 25 MPG. Commercial van averages drop to anywhere from 11 to 16 MPG.

 

Cargo Space

There’s a lot of disparity between both vehicle types for cargo room. It’s mostly determined by whether the van is meant more for hauling equipment or passengers. As a point of reference, Autobytel reports that the average personal van carries about 140.5 cubic feet of cargo space. Commercially designed vans usually had about 415 cubic feet of cargo space.

 

Bear in mind – the more seating you add in either type, the less cargo space you’ll have.

 

Cost Considerations

This will be a major factor in your decision about whether to buy or rent. More than just the asking price for the vehicle, you need to look at several other factors that could increase your total cost. More often than not, you’ll find that owning a commercial van costs way more than owning a personal van.

 

Asking Price

There’s a huge disparity in prices between not only commercial and personal vans but also between used and new. The U.S. News & World Reported calculated that the price of a brand new 2018 personal van was around $36,583, while a used averaged about $22,000. A new commercial van averaged about $38,116, while a used ran for $25,000.

 

Gas Costs

Since personal vans tend to be driven less and get better MPG ratings than commercial vans, they tend to cost less on gas prices. Time reported that the average annual gas cost of a standard personal van was $2,330. For commercial vans, it was over $5,000 a year.

 

Insurance

Insurance cost was another area where personal vehicles cost far less than commercial. The average cost to ensure a personal van was around $1,000 per year. Commercial van rates averaged $1,200 per year, according to fitsmallbusiness.com.

 

Maintenance

Maintenance will be an area of vehicle ownership you’ll have to deal with sooner or later. AAA reported the average personal van added 13,000 miles every year and cost around $1,186 in maintenance fees. Commercial vans, with their heavier road use, averaged around 15,000 miles per year and around $1,706 in maintenance costs.

 

True Cost

To roll those numbers into a grand total, the true cost of buying and maintaining each type of van over a year averaged:

 

  • Personal Van = $41,099
  • Commercial Van = $46,022

 

The Verdict

As the data suggests, it is much more expensive to own and maintain a commercial van than it is a personal van. You can feel confident that buying a personal van will probably be your preferred option if you have a large family but won’t be driving excessively.

 

By contrast, anytime you need to make use of a commercial van, you should consider renting. More often than not, opting to rent will be far more economical for your business. Not only will the total price be lower than the annual average, but you can save a lot of money from not paying as much on insurance and maintenance.

 

Ultimately, the decision on whether to buy or rent lies totally with you. I hope this guide was helpful and gave you some things to think about as you make your decision.

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