Understanding Different Van Body Types

Vans are incredibly versatile vehicles used for a wide range of purposes, from transporting goods and passengers to serving as mobile workshops or recreational vehicles. Understanding the different van body types available in the automotive maker is crucial for potential buyers to select the one that best suits their specific needs and requirements. In this article, we’ll discuss the distinct attributes of each van type, their best uses, and applications.

Van Body Types Overview

Vans come in different shapes and sizes, each catering to specific applications. The primary van body types are as follows:

  • Panel Van – The most common van type with a fully enclosed cargo area, ideal for securely transporting goods.
  • Crew Van – An extended version of the panel van with an extra row of seating behind the front seats, balancing passenger transport and cargo space.
  • Minibus or Passenger Van – Designed primarily for transporting people, with multiple rows of seating and large windows for better visibility.
  • Refrigerated Van (Reefer Van) – Equipped with cooling or heating systems, these vans are essential for transporting temperature-sensitive goods.
  • Luton Van – Features include an over-cab design providing extra storage space, accessible from the rear of the van.
  • Drop side Van – These feature removable sides for easy loading and unloading of cargo from the flat bed.
  • Tipper Van – Equipped with a hydraulic tipping mechanism for quick unloading of loose materials.
  • Camper Van – Designed for both transportation and offering a compact, self-contained living space for travellers.

These are the most common van types. For the rest of this article, we’ll delve a little deeper and describe the features and capacities of each type listed above.

Panel Van

Description and Features

These vans have a fully enclosed cargo area with no side windows. They often feature double rear doors for easy loading and unloading as well as sliding doors on the side to easy access to the cargo space. Panel Vans come is various sizes, offering different cargo capacities to suit various needs. Some models may also have the option of a high roof, allowing for increased vertical storage space.

Best Uses and Applications

Panel vans are popular among delivery services, tradespeople, and small businesses that require a reliable and secure way to transport goods or equipment. Whether it’s delivering packages, carrying tools for a construction job, or providing on-site services, panel vans are the workhorse of many industries.

Seating Capacity and Space

Most panel vans are designed for the driver and a front passenger, prioritizing cargo space over passenger seating.

Crew Van

Description and Features

Crew vans, also known as double-cab vans, are an extended version of the panel van. They feature an additional row of seating behind the front seats, providing more space to accommodate passengers while still offering a decent amount of cargo space. They have a similar exterior appearance to panel vans, but the extended length is noticeable from the side profile.

Seating Capacity and Cargo Space

Crew vans typically seat five or more passengers, including the driver, while still providing ample cargo space. The rear seating can often be folded or removed to create additional room for cargo.

Ideal Use Cases and Industries

Crew vans are popular among companies that require a flexible and efficient vehicle for transporting both personnel and equipment. These vans are popular in the construction industries as they enable work crews to travel together to job sites while carrying all of their tools.

Minibus or Passenger Van

Description and Features

Minibuses, also known as passenger vans, are designed primarily for transporting people They have multiple rows of seating, large windows, and sliding doors on the sides for easy passenger access. Some models may have extra amenities such as air conditioning, entertainment systems, and comfortable seating to enhance passenger comfort.

Seating Capacity and Interior Configurations

Minibuses come in a range of seating configurations, accommodating anywhere from 8 to 15 passengers or more, depending on the model. The interior can be customized to include bench-style or individual seats, and some models may have removable seats to create additional space for luggage or cargo.

Public Transportation and Private Use

Minibuses serve as excellent shuttles for public transportation, school buses, and group transportation. They are also popular for private use, such as airport transfers, corporate events, and group tours.

Refrigerated Van (Reefer Vans)

Description and Features

Refrigerated cans, commonly referred to as reefer vans, are designed to transport temperature-sensitive goods. These vans are equipped with cooling or heating systems to maintain a consistent internal temperature.

Purpose and Importance in the Transportation Industry

Reefer vans are essential for industries such as food delivery, pharmaceuticals, floral shops, and other businesses dealing with perishable products. Maintaining the appropriate temperature during transportation helps prevent spoilage and ensures product quality and safety.

Luton Van

Description and Features

Luton vans are named after the town of Luton in England, where this design was first used. Luton vans have a distinctive design that extends over the driver’s cab, providing extra storage space. This additional storage is accessible from the rear of the vehicle and is usually enclosed with a separate door or shutter.

Overcab Storage and Extra Space

The overcab storage space in Luton vans is ideal for carrying lightweight, bulky items, or those that don’t fit comfortably in the regular cargo area. Luton vans are commonly used for home removals, furniture deliveries, and other transportation tasks that require extra room.

Dropside Van

Description and Features

Dropside vans, also known as flatbed vans, have removable sides that allow easy loading and unloading of cargo. These vans usually have a robust and durable flatbed design, making them suitable for heavy-duty tasks in commercial and construction settings.

Flatbed Design and Load Accessibility

The primary feature of dropside vans is the flatbed, which provides an open and easily accessible cargo area. The sides of the cargo area can be dropped down to create a flat surface, allowing for straightforward loading and unloading using forklifts or other equipment.

Applications in Commercial and Construction Settings

Dropside vans are versatile workhorses used in various industries for their efficiency and ease of loading. In construction and landscaping, they’re commonly used to transport construction materials, equipment, and green waste. Waste management companies utilize dropside vans to collect and transport recyclable materials, debris, and bulky items for disposal.

Tipper Vans

Description and Features

Tipper vans, as the name suggests, are equipped with a hydraulic tipping mechanism that allow the rear cargo area to be raised.

Hydraulic Tipping Mechanisms

The hydraulic tipping mechanism in tipper vans allow the rear to be raised to an angle, effectively unloading the cargo. This feature eliminates the need for manual unloading and reduces the effort and time required for such tasks.

Best Uses in Construction and Waste Management

Tipper vans are extensively used in the construction and waste management industries. Construction companies use tipper vans for delivering sand, gravel, and other construction materials, whilewaste management companies rely on them for transporting construction debris and other waste materials.

Camper Vans

Description and Features

Camper vans are a unique type of van body that’s designed for both transportation and living amenities. These vans are equipped with living accommodations, providinga compact, self-contained living space for travellers.

Living and Sleeping Amenities

The interior of a camper van is specially designed to maximize the use of space. It typically includes a small kitchenette with a stove, sink, and refrigerator, as well as a sleeping area with a foldable or convertible bed. Camper vans may also include a small dining area, bathroom with a portable toilet, and storage cabinets for clothes and supplies.

Travel and Recreational Use

Camper vans provide the freedom to explore various destinations, from camping in the wilderness to embarking on long road trips. Camper vans offer a cost-effective way to travel, eliminating the need for hotel accommodations while providing the flexibility to set your own schedule.

Customization Options for Camper Vans.

One of the appealing aspects of camper vans is the level of customization they offer. Many camper vans come with flexible interior layouts that allow for personalization and customization based on individual preferences and travel needs. Owner can choose various features, such as solar panels for electricity, awnings for outdoor shade, and extra storage options. This ability to tailor the interior layout makes camper vans suitable for a wide range of travellers.


The world of vans is incredibly diverse, with each body type catering to specific needs and applications. When choosing a van, it’s essential to assess your specific needs and requirements carefully. Consider factors such as cargo capacity, seating arrangements, temperature controls, and living amenities, depending on your intended use. Whether you’re a business owner looking to optimize your operations or a traveller ready to hit the road, selecting the right van body type will enhance your experience and ensure optimal performance.

Where to Go for More Information

For any advice or recommendations about the various types of vans, check with the experts here at Used Car Sales Direct. We have been one of the most trusted used car dealers in this area for years, and we have a vast wealth of experience offering quality vehicles. If you need to replace your car, we have a huge inventory of low mileage cars to choose from.Each of our used vehicles has gone through a multi-point analysis performed by one of our highly trained technicians. They meticulously check the vehicle inside and out, under the bonnet, and on the road to make sure that the vehicle you purchase here is in tip top shape. Whether you’re in the market for one of our vehicles, need service or repairs to your vehicle, or need to get an MOT inspection, we are the place to go.

If you’d like to learn more about our services, visit our website or give us a call at either of our locations. In Exeter, call 01392 717888, and in Wellington call 01823 0795 437. Better yet, stop by and see us! We look forward to serving you!