Van (road vehicle)

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".

In urban areas of the United States, commuter vans have been common since 1977, when Dodge introduced a van that could transport up to 15 passengers. Today, 15-passenger commuter vans are made by Dodge, Ford and General Motors. The vehicles are a popular alternative to "car pooling" and other share-the-ride 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

Full Size Vans







Mid Size Vans



Mini Vans


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