The Ultimate Guide to if a Cargo Van Is a Good Investment

Cargo vans are a good investment if you need:

  • Space for advertising or branding
  • Heaps of loading capacity
  • Customization options
  • Great for transporting refrigerated cargo
  • Fuel-efficient

And the cons are:

  • Sub-par towing capabilities
    • Lower maximum payload capacity
    • Limited passenger room

Cargo vans have plenty to offer and they can be a great purchase.

However, there are also cons when buying a cargo van.

With this article you’ll be able to make an informed investment decision based on facts and the facts only.

To help show whether they are a good investment for you, I’ll also list the businesses that can get the most of owning one and about the most popular models in the US.


How to Know if It’s a Good Investment

Below I’ll list the primary advantages and disadvantages of buying a cargo van to help you make up your mind if it’s worth investing in such a vehicle.


The Pros

Some of the primary perks related to cargo vans are:


1. Using the Sites as Advertising and Branding Space

The kind of bland, single-color exterior of your typical van is actually a blessing in disguise.

This vast exterior area gives you a unique chance to make your vehicle a literal moving billboard.

You can put your own branding, logo, or name on there.

This will help increase brand awareness and make your business more recognizable.

You could also charge other companies by making your van a moving outdoor advertising machine that lets you generate revenue by displaying their ads on it.


2. Space and Loading Capacity

The sheer amount of space and hauling potential that cargo vans offer are hard to beat.

You can use the cargo area to load various larger and heavier items that you wouldn’t be able to fit in smaller vehicles.

The enclosed cargo bay fully protects your precious items and materials from the elements.

You can organize the loading bay according to your needs for easier access to tools and items.


3. Interior and Exterior Customization Options

The sky’s the limit when it comes to customizing your van.

You can modify the inside and outside of the vehicle to accommodate your business.

The interior is especially mod-friendly as you can add:

  • Wall hooks
  • Bins
  • Shelves
  • Lockers
  • Drawers
  • Dent-proof liners
  • Non-stick mat

You can also transform the exterior by adding:

  • Exterior roof racks
  • Larger rims
  • Ladders on the sides
  • Solar panels


4. Refrigeration and Cold Chain Capabilities

Refrigeration is everything for certain businesses, and cargo vans can help meet your cold chain demands.

This type of van can be turned into a very efficient cold chain transportation vehicle for foods, supplements, plants etc.

You can turn the entire loading area into a single massive fridge or use only a small section of the cargo bay if not all of your freight is temperature-sensitive.


5. Great Fuel Economy Considering the Size

Okay, you might think that I’m crazy for saying that cargo vans are fuel-efficient.

But their fuel economy is superior to box trucks, with diesel-powered cargo vans being especially economical.

Modern cargo vans have more efficient engines with more torque and power.

Their chassis and bodies are also made of lighter, yet more robust materials, and they benefit from superior aerodynamics compared to older models.

Also, improved MPG means you’ll be saving more in fuel costs in the long run.


6. Pretty Good Resale Value

The potentially lucrative resale value of a cargo van can make this a worthwhile investment.

Nonetheless, the primary factor that determines resale value is the make and model.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to focus exclusively on premium brands like Mercedes-Benz.

The most important thing is to pick a cargo van that suits your business needs, although a prestigious badge on the bonnet would only boost resale value.

Here’s an example:

  • A used 2018 Ford Transit 250 with a medium roof, dual sliding doors and 150k miles on the clock has a price range of $12,758-$17,969.

You have to consider another key factor – the global van market is projected to grow by 3.5% by 2026.


7. Improve Business Mobility and Flexibility

Investing in a cargo van can add a mobile component to your business.

It will enable you to offer specific door-to-door services to your customers.

For example, if you have a tire shop a cargo van can help expand your business by offering a mobile tire changing service.

This may increase profits and provide new business opportunities to tap into.


The Cons of Investing in a Cargo Van

Despite the lots of positive aspects, buying a cargo van still has a few drawbacks:


1. Sub-Optimal Towing Potential Compared to Trucks

Cargo vans aren’t designed with towing as the main priority in mind, although they can still tow lighter freight.

However, if towing objects is your main priority, consider a pickup truck.

Heavy-duty trucks will let you pull several thousand pounds over any van.

It’s the robust construction and typically higher power of trucks that make towing humongous weights effortless.


2. Lower Maximum Payload Capacity Than Box Trucks

Cargo vans have a very generous payload capacity, but trucks are simply superior.

An ordinary cargo van offers between 6k to 10k pounds of cargo capacity.

While a class 4 box truck offers between 14k and 16k payload capacity.

Thus, if you have to transport huge amounts of various goods, then a box truck is better.


3. Limited Room for Passengers

Typically, cargo vans offer only 2-3 front seats for passengers.

The back of a cargo van is strictly for freight as they’re not designed for carrying people.

But if you need a vehicle that has to carry several workers on top of all the cargo, ou might want to consider a pickup truck.

More specifically, a crew-cab truck will probably be your best bet.

They are a reasonable compromise between passenger space, loading capacity, and towing capabilities.


The Businesses that Benefit from Owning a Cargo Van

The following businesses and contractors might benefit from investing in a cargo van:


1. Electricians

Electricians need boatloads of storage space for all the cables, parts, and tools.

They need to properly organize their equipment to not lose precious time while working on-site.

And that’s where a cargo van comes into play.

These vehicles let you add storage compartments (if not already available) to the loading bay to keep all small parts such as test meters and cable cutters in place.


2. Plumbers

Plumbers can take advantage of the very generous stand-up room that these vehicles offer, especially high-roof variants.

The endless customization options of cargo vans are another plumber-friendly perk.

You can install shelves and racks to organize your plumbing tools (such as PEX pipes and fittings) when going from address to address.


3. Florists

Storing and transporting flowers and plants is rather tricky as you need a large enough vehicle with plenty of room for customization.

The flowers have to be secured properly and at the correct temperature to keep them in mint condition.

And a cargo van can be modified into a superb floral-friendly vehicle.

The tall interior is ideal for both taller plants and more delicate floral arrangements.

You can also add a non-slip mat to ensure that all flowers stay in place in-between deliveries.


4. Mobile Veterinary Practices

Mobile vets require quite a bit of storage for their extensive list of medical equipment.

This may include a sink, table, scale, fridge, medicine cabinet, and even an X-ray machine.

Thankfully, all of these items can find their place inside the roomy loading bay of a cargo van.

You can even transform your van into a veterinary clinic on wheels to visit your furry patients on-site.


5. Animal Care Providers

Buying a cargo van can be a sensible investment if you’re in the dog daycare, boarding, pet sitting, or dog walking industry.

The massive space at the back makes for a spacious and cozy place for transporting pets.

You’ll be able to fit both small and large cages to accommodate your four-legged clients.

And there’ll even be storage areas left for the leashes and any pet toys.


6. HVAC Technicians

Installing, maintaining and repairing heating, ventilation and air conditioning means that you need plenty of space.

Thus, the sheer space and customization options of a cargo van will help you to safely carry all the materials and tools to job sites.

You can make your van very HVAC-friendly by installing customized shelves, drawers, and racks.


7. Painters

The life of a professional painter involves a lot of climbingand transporting equipment.

But all the paint brushes, ladders, and rollers can fit into a well-organized van.

Adding interior ladder racks, customized drawers, and shelves can make your life as a painter much easier.

Moreover, you can even use a paint-resistant liner to protect your vehicle’s interior from any paint stains.


8. Catering Services

Storing and transporting food from client to client means you need a vehicle that:

  • Rides well
  • Has enough interior space
  • Is cold-chain friendly

A cargo van ticks all these boxes and then some.

You can transform the loading area by using custom shelves and accessories to suit your catering needs.

You can also install the necessary refrigeration equipment to keep the drinks and foods cool.


9. Locksmiths

Having a mobile locksmith repair shop can be a very clever move from a business perspective.

But you’ll need a fitting vehicle that you can transform into a mobile workshop.

Enter cargo vans.

These vehicles let you customize the interior by adding storage bins, shelves, locking cabinets, and workbenches.

There are even vehicle customization companies that offer locksmith-specific packages for different van models.


10. Music Bands

Let’s face it, band vans and music bands go hand in hand.

Those long tours mean that you’ll be spending days if not weeks on the road.

So you’ll need a van that’s big enough for all band members and their equipment.

The storing capacity and diversecustomization options that cargo vans offer will suit you perfectly.

You can organize the interior as you like by adding more seats or installing musical instrument racks.

Your band will also benefit from a very decent fuel economy, which shouldn’t be overlooked when touring.


The Factors for Getting a Good ROI With a Cargo Van

There are several key factors to consider for getting a good return on investment from a cargo van:


1. Get a Vehicle with a Good Reliability Record

The reliability of your cargo van will determine repair costs and how long it stays on the road without having to visit a repair shop.

Picking a reliable model can save you some money and result in a better return on investment in the long run.

Some models that are typically viewed as reliable are the Mercedes Sprinter and Ford Transit.


2. Check the Vehicle Thoroughly Before Buying

Buying a cargo van in good condition ensures fewer problems, cheaper maintenance, and eventually – better ROI.

So before you commit to buy a van, take it for a test drive and have a qualified mechanic inspect it if you’re buying a used model.

This will help you find out if there are any expensive repairs lurking beneath the surface.


3. Opt for a Model with Higher Gas Mileage

Fuel economy is quite important for both running costs and the eventual ROI of a cargo van.

For example, a van that gets 19 MPG will require 526.3 gallons per 10k miles, while a 24 MPG model will need only 416.7 gallons for the same trip.

And at roughly $3/gallon, this difference equals $328, and this amount will only add up over time.

One of the most fuel-efficient cargo vans on the market currently is the Ford Transit Connect with 24 MPG (city) and 27 MPG (highway).


4. Follow the Recommended Service Intervals

Every cargo van comes with a specific maintenance schedule that can be found in the vehicle’s manual and should be followed closely.

This ensures that your vehicle receives proper maintenance at the correct intervals, which translates to improved longevity and ROI.

Also, don’t forget to keep a detailed record of every maintenance performed as proof to add even more resale value.

Note that certain parts have to be inspected or replaced at 30k, 60k, and 90k-mile intervals.


5. Keep Your Cargo Van Clean and Tidy

This applies to both the interior and exterior of your vehicle.

But don’t only clean your cargo van prior to selling it – make sure to keep it clean year-round.

Especially during winter when the road salt used to keep the roads ice-free can really damage your van’s paint over time.


Best Cargo Vans for Both Small and Large Businesses

These are my top picks when it comes to the best and most popular cargo vans for any business:


1. Ford Transit

  • Max payload – 4,640 lbs
  • Wheelbase – 129.9″ to 147.6″
  • Roof height – 82.2″ to 110.4″
  • Cargo capacity – 135 cubic feet

The Ford Transit is an absolute bestseller that needs no introduction.

This workhorse comes in various roof heights, wheelbases, and body lengths, so finding your ideal model is a child’s play.

There are also 3 engines to choose from, an option for 4×4 and some really neat modern safety features.


2. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

  • Max payload – 4,354 lbs
  • Wheelbase – 144″ to 170″
  • Roof height – 96.3″ to 107.5″
  • Cargo capacity – 319 cubic feet

If you’re looking for a premium cargo van with hefty amounts of badge appeal, look no further than the Mercedes Sprinter.

It offers vast amounts of cargo capacity alongside two roof sizes, 4×4 and several rear-step options to choose from.

You also get to benefit from Mercedes’ latest gadgets such as the optional 360° camera.


3. Freightliner Sprinter

  • Max payload – 3,854 lbs
  • Wheelbase – 144″ to 170″
  • Roof height – 95.5″ to 109.1″
  • Cargo capacity – 319 cubic feet

The Freightliner Sprinter offers superb load capacity with a decent max payload number.

You get to choose between two wheelbases and two roof sizes, while an all-wheel drive is also available as an option.

There’s also some extra equipment available such as Active Brake Assist and a 360° camera.

Note that the Freightliner is quite similar to the Sprinter as it’s basically a rebranded Mercedes.


4. Chevrolet Express

  • Max payload – 4,250 lbs
  • Wheelbase – 135″ to 155″
  • Roof height – 84.75″
  • Cargo capacity – 239.4 cubic feet

The Chevrolet Express is a common sight on US roads for several reasons.

It offers plenty of space, two wheelbase versions, four engines, and a truly massive 31-gallon fuel tank that’s only rivaled by the GMC Savana.

The available safety features include rear parking sensors and rear-view camera.


5. GMC Savana

  • Max payload – 3,280 lbs
  • Wheelbase – 135″ to 155″
  • Roof height – 84″
  • Cargo capacity – 239.4 cubic feet

The Savana is a very well-rounded cargo van with a few useful additional features.

It offers very decent amounts of cargo capacity and payload (in the long-wheelbase option), while an 8-speed auto transmission comes standard.

Also, there are other engines to choose from apart from the popular V6 gasoline unit, while safety features include options such as a rear parking camera and park assist.



In a nutshell, investing in a cargo van has its pros and cons for both small and large businesses.

They offer a number of superb benefits ranging from opportunities for branding to various customization options and resale value.

However, there are also some drawbacks to choosing a cargo van, such as limited towing capabilities and passenger room.

Eventually, it’s up to you to decide if a cargo van is a worthy investment.

And I hope that this article made everything clear so that you can make an informed decision.

Now, make sure to check our other articles as well!