Van or Ute - Which Commercial Vehicle is for You?

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Many people looking at starting a trade ask me whether to buy a ute or a van, and I often explain the reasons why I changed from a ute to a van.  Interestingly, many Australian men think buying a ute is the blokey, manly approach to running a business or trade, but might I encourage you to give it some critical thought before rushing out.  I've helped about 50 people start their own business in the last 10 years and many that bought utes had wished otherwise, and some who had bought vans had wished they had given it more thought.



  1. Utes are generally cheaper to buy than vans.
  2. They are often easier and cheaper to repair after an accident (especially the cab chassis versions with an aluminium try)
  3. Being lighter in weight, they often have more power leftover for towing, but they tend to be bouncier on the road.
  4. They are a lot of fun for hay rides on rural property, and make you popular with small children.
  5. It is easier to clean out or hose out the back of a ute, and washing a ute tends to be a lot faster.
  6. Cleaning the inside of a ute is very quick.
  7. Insurance is often cheaper on a light truck (such as a Hilux) but very expensive on V8 or special vehicle utes.
  8. I found with my ute that, if I left it unattended, people would put rubbish in the back.  Usually nothing serious; often just a snack packet, banana peel, takeaway containers etc.  The problem is that I would drive away not knowing it was there and it would blow out onto cars behind me.  It was a bad reflection on my company.


  1. If you insure your equipment and the contents of your van, this is a lot less complicated and often cheaper with a van.
  2. With a van, everything inside is out of sight and less likely to be stolen.  Many ute owners have equipment stolen while they are paying for petrol.
  3. A good van (like a VW transporter) will do 1280km on 80L of diesel.  That's Sydney to Geelong and then on to Waarnambool.
  4. European vans tend to be very stable on the road like a train on traintracks, and they tend not to bounce around.
  5. Vans tend to be longer in the rear since the cabin is above the engine.  My van can take objects nearly 2.4m long, and it comes in very handy.
  6. Since vans have covered cargo areas, the equipment kept in the back doesn't get rained on or sun faded.  When it comes time to sell your equipment, it is nice to sell it without rust and not faded since it tends to sell for a lot more money.
  7. Vans are nice to drive since the driving is done from a higher sitting position, above the traffic.  It also tends to lead to less stress and less car sickness.
  8. What sold me the most about a van is that they come with 2 FREE BILLBOARDS above the windowline, so they are more easily seen.  Mobile billboards cost a lot to hire, but if you get your van signs professionally designed with photo-quality graphics, your phone will start to ring a lot more often.  Your other option is leasing out your sign space to other companies wanting to appear to have delivery vans on the road.  I know one web site that can get you $3,000 per year for your space.

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