Your Vanworld guide to everything LCV

Andrew Newbound

By: Andrew Newbound

Today’s LCV market is jam-packed with vans of all different shapes and sizes. There are small vans, chunky vans, long vans, tall vans, vans with several rows of seating, others that look like huge boxes on wheels, and then there are those that tip and tilt, or seem to have no back at all.

Unless you’re a seasoned LCV buyer, many of the different names and terms you encounter when considering your next van could leave you bamboozled and befuddled. So to help, we’ve created the definitive Vanworld guide to all things LCV. Let us know if we’ve missed anything.

CDV (Car-derived van)

The name is a bit of a give-away really. CDVs are perhaps the smallest of all commercial vehicles on the market today. Essentially, this is a small car that’s been turned into a small van. These vans typically carry lighter loads – they’re perfect for boutique cake bakers, caterers, florists, etc - and when fully laden, have a maximum weight of 2 tonnes.

The best examples are Ford’s nippy little Fiestavan and Vauxhall’s energetic Corsavan. Don’t overload them or expect to carry too much cargo in a CDV, but if you need something economic yet hardworking, capable of zipping around a town or city, these are ideal.

City van

Sticking with the city theme, vans such as Citroen’s punchy little Nemo and the robust Fiat Doblo are a step up in size from the slightly smaller CDVs. These vans are compact yet incredibly functional. Their payloads are larger (big enough to swallow an entire Euro pallet), so you can tackle larger jobs, carry extra cargo and make more deliveries.

City vans are still relatively small though, making them perfect for getting around busy city roads. They’re often first choice for urban delivery drivers and professional service providers such as photocopier engineers and small-run printers; the deceptively spacious cargo hold makes them unbeatable.

Chassis van

If you’re in a business with unique or specific LCV needs, then a good base to start is the chassis van. Fresh off the production line, this looks like a cab that’s been bolted to a van skeleton. And basically, that’s what it is. You wouldn’t drive one of these on the road unconverted. Instead, a conversion specialist will add to the chassis and create a bespoke LCV that entirely matches the needs of your business.

Often, this could mean simply adding a curtain-side to the rear or a mini-bus conversion. Or something more complex, such as a refrigeration unit, hot food storage for mobile caterers, and much more. In fact, the options are as wide and varied as the UK’s many businesses require.

Crew van

Although most trade drivers work alone or in pairs, there are many instances where teams need to travel together, such as highway or railway maintenance crews. In these cases, a standard van simply isn’t practical – the last thing your team wants is to slosh around with their tools in the back of a van.

A crew van, or double-cab as it’s sometimes called, fits the bill perfectly. Usually with one or two extra rows of seats behind the driver cab, crew cabs such as Vauxhall’s popular Movano and Peugeot’s practical Expert enable you to transport teams up to seven or eight strong in comfort and safety, and still have room to carry tools and equipment.

Luton van

Named after the original version of this van style, made by Bedford vans in Luton, the Luton van is also sometimes known as a box van. As this secondary name suggests, these vans are basically bare chassis cabs, such as the Vauxhall Movano and Citroen’s Relay, with a large cubic load built onto the rear.

Ideal for larger load carriers, Luton vans are the LCV of choice for many multi-drop delivery drivers and any business that specialises in transporting larger loads. This includes house movers and specialist furniture deliverers.

Platform cab

Most LCV manufacturers, such as Vauxhall, Fiat and Nissan, provide their larger vans as platform cabs. These versions come with a flatbed read – they look more like trucks than vans – and are ideal for minor conversions, such as vehicle recovery.

When dropsides are added – shallow metal or wooden panels that ‘drop’ down to provide easy loading and unloading - many businesses such as highway maintenance use them as trucks for varying tools and equipment that needs to be accessed quickly. For others, the platform cab is perfect for transporting building materials.

Panel van

Think of the iconic Ford Transit van and you’ve got an image of the archetypical Panel Van. Indeed, tell someone that you drive a van for a living and this is what they’ll picture you behind the wheel of. As with many of today’s LCVs, the functional name describes the vehicle perfectly – this is a van surrounded by large panels on either side.

Since the introduction of vans like the transit, they have developed significantly and you can now drive long-wheelbase versions, and panel vans with more roof space.  These vans pack real punch and carry a serious amount of cargo, making them ideal for most tasks. They’re also the most popular and practical choice for bespoke versions – there’s not much these vans can’t turn their metaphorical hands to.


No surprises here. Your standard Tipper is exactly as it sounds – a dropside truck fitted with a hydraulic mechanism that tips or turns the bed so materials can be loaded onto the ground or another surface. The open load area is perfect for carrying cargo such as landscaping or building materials.