They’re called step vans, bread vans, taco trucks and even “multi-stop trucks”. Regardless of what you call them, these vehicles appear everywhere. And it seems like they’ve been around forever too. A quick Google search of step vans for sale will reveal a wide selection of everything from the 1970’s to brand new. So who uses the odd looking vans and would one work in your business?
Most notably, Fed-Ex and UPS have the largest fleet of step vans in the country. The commercial uniform & laundry industry also prefer step vans. Years ago the term “Taco Truck” was coined when the food industry went mobile. And today’s food truck vendors have revitalized this segment of commercial vehicles. But virtually every service and trade can be found working out of a step van. Plumbers, mobile dog grooming salons, women’s mobile clothing boutiques and even mobile mechanics. More than likely, there are plenty of companies in your line of work already doing business from step vans.
Talk to a step van owner and he can educate you as to why it out-performs the equivalent sized parcel van. For starters, step vans have the lowest deck height on average. When a worker steps into a step van, they will have less distance to travel compared to most delivery vehicles in the market. This results in less energy and time consumed while also reducing the threat of on the job injury. It doesn’t sound like much, but when factoring countless vehicle entry and exits per day compounded by many years, it can have a very noticeable impact on both employees and productivity.
Another characteristic that makes step vans so versatile is that the cargo area generally has two points of access: from the rear door as well as from a bulkhead door in the drivers compartment. And getting in and out of the drivers area couldn’t be easier. Full size in-set steps makes for quick and safe passage. Once inside the drivers cab, the operator is able to stand up freely with plenty of room to move around. With a very large windshield and an elevated driver’s seat, step vans provide tremendous visibility. Furthermore, most step van engine compartments afford your service department with ample room to work compared to the cut-away van category.
The step van is not for everyone however. Many models come from the factory without air conditioning. They often have little to no cabin insulation; thus, not protecting the driver from heat or cold as well as other vehicles. Protruding fender wells in the cargo area are another complaint. While this is not an issue for someone building a food truck; it does reduce the area of flat floor space for those needing to transport bulky items. Step vans also have smaller rear cargo door openings than that of a box truck. Depending on what you need to load, this could be a deterrent. Keep in mind however, there are multiple step van manufactures with many different specifications available.
What really stands out about a step van is that over the years they really haven’t changed much. Of course the powertrain is updated each year as new models roll out. But of the physical characteristics, they basically stay the same. The industry found something that works well… and there’s been no need to change it.
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