Van (road vehicle)

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This article refers to the road vehicle known as a van. For other uses, including rail vehicles, please see Van (disambiguation)
1978 Citroën 2CV AK400 van
A modern van, the Nissan Primastar

A van is a vehicle used for transporting goods or groups of people. It is generally a rather box-shaped vehicle on four wheels, about the same width and length as a large automobile, but taller and usually higher off the ground. It can either be a specially designed vehicle or be based on a saloon/sedan car, the latter type often including derivatives with open backs (pick-ups etc). Some vans can be really small, like the van versions of the Mini or can be really large like some Mercedes-Benz vans. Larger vehicles are classified as trucks or lorries.

The word "van" has slightly different, but overlapping, meanings in different forms of English. While the word always applies to boxy cargo vans, British English speakers will generally refer to a passenger minivan as a people-carrier or MPV, and a larger passenger van as a minibus. British people, mostly older ones, will also sometimes call a pickup truck a "van", something Americans would never do. Similarly, in Australia, panel vans, recreational vehicles popular among young people in the 1970s, were based on locally-manufactured utes (short for utility, the local name for pickup).

In the United States, a "van" can also refer to a box-shaped trailer or semitrailer used to carry goods. In this case there is a differentiation between a dry van, used to carry most goods, and a refrigerated van (a "reefer") used for cold goods. A railway car used to carry baggage is also called a "van". Occasionally the term van is also used to refer to a Minivan. However, minivans are usually distinguised by their smaller size, unibody architecture, and front wheel drive powertrains.

The "standard" or "full size" vans in the United States were originally manufactured by the "big three" Dodge, Ford and General Motors. The frame and drive train are identical or similar to the full sized pick ups made by the each manufacturer but with a snub front resulting in most of the engine to protrude under a console between the front seats, often called a "dog house". They have been sold as both cargo and passenger models to the general public and as Cutaway van chassis versions for second stage manufacturers to make box vans, ambulances, campers and other vehicles. Second stage manufacturers also modify the original manufacturer's body to create custom vans for the general public. Dodge, now part of Daimler-Chrysler quit making their model in June of 2002 and replaced it with the Dodge Sprinter.

Recently the passenger versions have been criticized for having a tendency to roll over. The van body is taller than the cab and bed of the pickup that uses the same style frame and drivetrain resulting in the basic van having a higher center of gravity than a similarly loaded pickup from which it is derived. The seats in the passenger version raise the load, passengers, above the floor further increasing the center of gravity. The bench seats allow passengers to slide if safety belts are not used (in the United States it is common for only the front seat passengers to use their safety belts) and belted passengers can still lean. The result is a high center of gravity and a shifting load. In addition, many of the drivers of passenger vans drive them infrequently.

In urban areas of the United States full size vans have been used as commuter vans since 1977, when Dodge introduced a van that could transport up to 15 passengers. Commuter vans are used as an alternative to "car pooling" and other ride sharing arrangements.

Many mobile businesses use a van to carry almost their entire business to various places where they work (for instance, people who come to homes or places of business to perform services or to install or repair appliances).

Vans are also used to shuttle people and their luggage between hotels and airports, to transport commuters between parking lots and their places of work, and along established routes as mini-buses.

See also

Makes of Van

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Full Size Vans

















Mid Size Vans



Mini Vans