Vans and commercial 4x4s are central to our business health. Small and medium-sized businesses couldn't function efficiently without them.
Simply put, without vans or pickups business owners would find supplying goods and services at a competitive price all but impossible.
That's why it's good news that the van and commercial 4x4 sector is currently in rude good health. In terms of price, technology, comfort and load-lugging ability things have never been better.
There is huge competition between manufacturers for your business - small, medium or large - and this means excellent vehicles and good prices.
But the key thing is to identify which type of van or pickup you need for your business, whether you be a sole trader or limited company, a builder, farmer or service company. VAT can be reclaimed if you're registered.
The range goes from large to small: panel vans, commercial pickups, car-derived vans and at the smaller and lesser-used end of the market: converted cars.
At the larger end of the sector are commercial vehicles, often called panel vans.
There are generally speaking two categories of panel vans, large and mid-sized.
Renault, for example, offers the Trafic and the bigger Master, whereas Fiat has the Talento and Ducato.
As a rule with panel vans, you get a high driving position and a large load area on the back while the bigger models are usually offered in a bewildering array of derivatives with short and long-wheelbase, varying payloads and numerous cab or load bed options including "crew" versions with windows.
Specify the combination that best suits you. Most other manufacturers offer large vans also, including Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Citroen and Peugeot.
Next down is the pick-up truck class; these four-wheel-drive load-luggers have experienced a dramatic surge in popularity recently with business users taking a shine to their versatility.
A pick-up can be a rugged, go-anywhere workhorse during the week and thoroughbred family transportation on weekends. Think Isuzu D-Max or Mitsubishi L200 to name but a couple.
They appeal in particularly to farmers, builders and others who need their power, off-road ability but also increasingly car-like driving experiences.
Next in line in terms of size is the car-derived van sector. As the title suggests, these are vans that share their underpinnings with cars.
There are those that closely resemble their people carrying cousins, with the back-seat bench combined with the boot to form the load area, and then there's the more van-like 'hi-cube' versions, with wider, higher load bays.
Examples include the Fiat Doblo Cargo, Renault Trafic, and Ford Transit Connect. All offer near-car-style driving positions and handling, with compact dimensions making them ideal for limited-load urban usage.
At the bottom of the sector in terms of size are converted cars. These are cars that have had some changes - e.g. rear passenger windows removed and alterations to the boot - to make them qualify as small vans, for example the Ford Fiesta Sport van.
So, choice isn't a problem in this market place, and don't forget there are electric options too, like the Renault Kangoo ZE 33.
Don't be overawed by the levels of choice. Your local dealer will make short work of explaining the ins and outs of the product ranges while offering comprehensive after-sales back-up.
All of which leaves you free to keep on trucking. Oh, and to keep you up to date, here, in no particular order, are five of our favourites...
The Ducato is a large panel van with a comfy cabin and an efficient Fiat MultiJet engine that includes optional Start/Stop and a UP button to optimise gear shifts when the van has a full load or is going uphill.
It has good practical uses, from up to 17 cubic metres l of loadspace, a payload of up to 2,190kg and an internal length of up to 4m. It’s incredibly flexible, coming in van, glazed van, crew van and combi versions and with a good range of accessories.
One of the mainstays of the van eco-system, the Transit Connect recently received a refresh with a new diesel engine, new petrol engine and more efficient 8-speed auto transmission option.
If you want to add a bit more style, a new Transit Connect Sport was added to the line-up last year with smarter exterior styling and an enhanced cabin including part-leather trim.
A variant of the much-loved D-Max commercial pickup, the double cab Workman Plus contains all the features of the D-Max Utility version, but adds in the likes of a Tow Bar & 13 Pin Electrics, Side Steps, 18” Alloys, DAB radio and a reversing camera.
It has a 3.5 tonne towing capacity and a 125,000 mile/5-year warranty (whichever comes first) and 5-year roadside assistance in the UK and across Europe.
The Kangoo is Renault’s smaller van, and we love its efficiency, adaptability and driving experience. There are small panel van, small crew van and fully electric versions to suit a range of businesses.
The Kangoo has load volumes up to 4.6 metres cubed (long wheelbase version) and it’s most-efficient engines officially return up to 64mpg, which will help with your fuel costs.
Mitsubishi’s latest L200 is getting much praise for increased levels of comfort, improved suspension and a clean new 2,268cc turbo diesel engine with AdBlue.
The new model comes with an increased payload of 1,080kg and gross train weight of 6,155kg, 6-speed automatic transmission an upgraded cabin and a whole range of assists including Mitsubishi Active Stability & Traction Control and Trailer Stability Assist.