How to choose 'fit for purpose' business vehicles

Parked cars
Parked cars

There are many reasons to buy a vehicle for your business, but generating revenue is probably the most common one.

When it comes to picking the right vehicle for the job, however, it can get tricky to balance your business needs and the emotions associated with the purchase. This can sometimes steer you off course and end up costing your business money. So, we’ve looked at some things to consider when choosing a fleet vehicle.

Tips for vehicle selection

The key to choosing a vehicle for your business is to make sure it’s ‘fit for purpose’. This is the test professional fleet managers use when selecting vehicles for a fleet. They work with the drivers and managers within the business to understand how and by whom the vehicles will be used. They then measure vehicles against a range of criteria outlined in the organisation’s fleet policy so they can narrow down the choices.

An easy first question could be are you carrying goods or people? If the answer is people, you can narrow it down further. How many people and how often? If it’s goods, how big and how heavy are they likely to be?

These questions are important to save you from buying a vehicle that’s bigger than you need and costing you money unnecessarily, or smaller than you need and ineffective.  

If you’re carrying goods 

If your business transports goods rather than people, the weight and size of the goods will determine whether you need a van, ute or truck. 

Vans are perfect if your cargo needs to be protected from the elements and can be loaded by hand. If the goods are heavier, most vans are also designed to allow loading with a forklift from the side or rear. They come in a range of lengths and heights to suit most industries and are great for small amounts of cargo. 

Utility vehicles (utes) are also available in a range of sizes and styles. The main consideration here is whether the vehicle will be used solely for business purposes or you want to use it to cart the family around on the weekend too. A dual cab ute is more expensive to run than a single cab ute, so business owners need to take this into account in their analysis.

Most businesses know if they need a truck. The products they make and deliver can be large, heavy, bulky and high volume. A truck is also better suited than a ute if the load is constant because they are built to handle it. The challenge is recognising the tipping point at which the load is heavy and constant enough to warrant upgrading from a ute to a truck. 

If you’re carrying passengers

A decade ago, sedans were popular in fleets and station wagons were used when sales representatives needed to carry sample products. Nowadays, SUVs are dominating the new car sales market, with more models available in a range of sizes. 

Their increased popularity has allowed fleets to move away from sedans and towards SUVs because of the lower Whole of Life costs. They may cost more to buy initially, but strong consumer demand makes them worth more in the used car market after four years than most passenger cars, ultimately making them cheaper to own.

Return on investment

Looking at your vehicle selection process with your team is an important step in fleet management. The differences in the running costs between a 4X4 dual cab and a small car are significant, so this can have a big effect on your bottom line.

It gets slightly more complicated if your employees use work vehicles for personal use after hours. The popularity of dual cab utes with one passenger and no cargo shows that sometimes the line between a business and personal decision can get blurred. 

That’s why it’s worth doing an assessment to know how the vehicle will be used and if the personal gains outweigh the cost to the business. Performing a ‘fit for purpose’ analysis can give you the confidence and peace of mind you need to make well-informed fleet choices. 



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