Getting it wrong, on the other hand, can lose you a lot of money. In this buying guide, we'll look at the main factors you need to consider when choosing a delivery vehicle, and review the top cars and vans for delivery drivers in 2023. We’ve included vehicles available in North America, as well as in Europe and Asia.
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What to consider when choosing a delivery vehicle
The most important things to consider in choosing your delivery vehicle may be different depending on whether you’re a solo driver, or buying vehicles for a business. For solo drivers, cost and fuel efficiency are often the most important factors. For small fleets, cargo space and value become important as well. For larger fleets, cargo capacity and fuel economy are even more critical. Overall, you’ll want to optimize your cost per delivery as well as considering safety and comfort.
Which is better for delivery vehicles: electric, gas, or diesel?
The right choice depends on your driving patterns. Understanding these will help you choose a vehicle that will be efficient and effective for your delivery needs:
Deliver in a dense urban area with many stops and starts? Consider a smaller electric vehicle with better maneuverability.
Have long stretches on the highway? Consider a larger vehicle with better highway fuel efficiency.
Electric cars perform well on short trips at low-medium speeds. Meanwhile, diesel cars may be unsuitable for short range delivery. Gasoline cars are somewhere in the middle. Also, energy-demanding features like cooling may not be available in electric cars.
Electric vehicles may be the most expensive upfront, but they are cheaper to maintain and fuel.
You should also consider local rules and regulations when you make your choice. Some cities and countries have already announced bans on diesel vehicles, for example.
Should you choose a car, a truck or a van for deliveries?
Choosing a car, truck, or van depends on your specific needs and the kind of work you do as a delivery driver. Here are some factors to consider when making this decision:
Trucks and vans have larger cargo areas than cars. This makes them a better choice for larger or heavier items. Consider the size and weight of the packages you deliver. For example, do you need to transport whole pallets? Make sure the vehicle you choose can accommodate your largest and heaviest package.
If you’re likely to carry large or heavy loads, you should also ensure you have the necessary equipment to safely load and unload them, like loading ramps or lifts. Research any weight restrictions or regulations in your delivery area to ensure compliance. More powerful vehicles are also better for towing.
On the other hand, if you’ll mostly be carrying small loads or working within a limited area, a cargo bike or scooter might be a better choice even than a car.
Maneuverability, comfort and safety
Trucks and vans may offer more space and comfort than cars. Cars, on the other hand, may have more advanced safety features and are generally more maneuverable. This can be helpful in urban areas with tight streets and limited parking. Vans often offer the most comfort on paved roads, as well as a safe, enclosed space for goods. Trucks are suitable for delivery areas with less-developed roads or off-road terrain.
Total cost of ownership
Cars are generally more fuel efficient than trucks, which are more efficient than vans. On the other hand, newer trucks and vans may offer better fuel efficiency than older models. Maintenance and repair costs can also vary depending on the vehicle’s age and condition. Larger, more complex trucks and vans may be more costly to maintain and repair.
Depending on your business model, your location and the kinds of deliveries you will be making, you may also want to consider things like:
Branding and customization options.
Cooling or heating for food delivery.
Likely resale value.
Taxes (including carbon taxes), insurance, congestion fees, and toll fees.
Should you buy a new or used delivery vehicle?
The decision to buy a new or used vehicle depends on your budget and business needs. Everybody likes a new car, but don’t let the thought of new car smell influence your decisions. Here are some factors to consider when making this decision:
Used vehicles are generally less expensive than new vehicles. This makes them more attractive for businesses with a tight budget, and those with fewer delivery gigs. On the other hand, used vehicles likely need more maintenance and repairs over time. This can increase costs in the long run.
New vehicles generally come with a warranty and are less likely to need repairs or maintenance. Used vehicles may have a history of wear and tear that could result in unexpected repairs.
Whether you choose a new or used vehicle, remember that maintenance is critical for small delivery businesses. Downtime is expensive and timely maintenance is key to reliable cars.
Customization for food delivery
A new vehicle can be customized to your exact specifications. So if you want specific features for food delivery services, that may be your best option. Used vehicles may not have the same customization options available.
New vehicles generally have a higher resale value than used vehicles. This can be important if you plan to sell or trade in your vehicle soon. Consider all factors — if you’re not planning to sell in the near future, a scratched-up vehicle with a healthy engine may be perfect.
Should you lease or buy your vehicle?
The decision to lease or buy also depends on your needs and financial situation. Think about:
Upfront vs long term cost
Leasing a vehicle requires a lower upfront cost. This is great if you have a limited budget, but the monthly payments can make it more expensive in the long run. Also, when you don’t own the vehicle you won't benefit from any resale value. When you buy, you have the option of selling or trading in the vehicle in the future.
Customization for food delivery
Again, buying may be a better option if you want to customize your vehicle. With full ownership, you can change the vehicle as you see fit. You can add specific food delivery features or branding at your leisure. With a lease, customization options may be more limited.
Leases often come with a mileage limit. This can be a concern for many delivery businesses. If you exceed the mileage limit, you may be charged extra fees. When you buy, you don't have to worry about mileage limits.
Both leasing and buying offer potential tax deductions for business use. Yet, the specific deductions and requirements may differ. Consult with a tax professional in your area to determine the best option for you.
The Chevy Bolt EV is an excellent choice for full-time delivery drivers in the gig economy. It’s an affordable car with an impressive range of up to 259 miles per charge, which means Bolt drivers can complete all their delivery jobs for the day without worrying about frequent charging stops.
The compact size of the vehicle also makes it easy to maneuver and park in tight spaces. This makes it a good fit for direct-to-consumer delivery for drivers who are using apps like Doordash, Grubhub and Uber Eats.
Finally, the Bolt EV offers ample cargo space. This makes it suitable for solo drivers and small fleets alike.
Toyota Prius Prime (plug-in hybrid): US version
The Toyota Prius Prime is a high mpg plug-in hybrid with considerable benefits for delivery drivers. It has an electric range of up to 25 miles, for a total combined range of 640 miles, ensuring delivery without frequent stops for refueling.
The compact design allows for easy parking and maneuvering in tight urban spaces. The Prius Prime also features a generous cargo area. This makes it a practical option for both solo drivers and small fleets.
The Nissan Leaf is a popular electric vehicle that delivers exceptional value for full-time delivery drivers. The Leaf has a competitive range of up to 226 miles per charge. The vehicle also features a spacious interior with enough room for packages and other cargo behind the hatchback. Its compact size and affordable price make the Nissan Leaf a solid choice for both solo drivers and small fleets seeking to cut operating costs.
Ford Focus (gasoline)
The Ford Focus is a value-oriented car with high gas mileage that makes it a great option for delivery driving. The compact size makes it easy to navigate and park in congested urban areas. Meanwhile, its spacious interior ensures there's plenty of room, even for the largest Instacart or Postmates delivery.
The Focus is known for its comfortable ride quality and reliable performance for both solo drivers and small fleets. Attractive pricing and solid fuel economy make the Ford Focus a practical option for those seeking a balance between cost and efficiency.
Hyundai Kona Electric (electric)
The Hyundai Kona Electric is a versatile and efficient hatchback with a good balance between range and affordability. It has an EPA-estimated range of up to 258 miles per charge.
The compact SUV design provides ample cargo space, and it also allows a higher seating position for better visibility. You can make Doordash and Grubhub deliveries in style! The Hyundai Kona Electric is a strong contender for both solo drivers and small fleets. Its competitive pricing and impressive range make it a great option for both. Also, note that the rear seats fold almost flat.
Top 5 vans and trucks for deliveries
Mercedes-Benz eSprinter (electric): US version
The Mercedes-Benz eSprinter is a fully electric cargo van designed to meet the demands of full-time delivery drivers and small fleets. With a range of up to 108 miles per charge, the eSprinter is well-suited for urban delivery routes. Its big storage space and configuration options allow flexibility. Businesses can adapt the vehicle to their specific requirements. The eSprinter also features advanced driver-assist technologies. This enhances safety and makes it an attractive option for delivery services.
Ram ProMaster City (gasoline)
The Ram ProMaster City is a versatile and efficient choice for solo delivery driving. Its compact size allows for easy navigation in city traffic. Meanwhile, its best-in-class cargo capacity ensures ample room for packages. The ProMaster City also boasts an impressive mpg. Its wide range of available configurations enables customization to suit specific needs. This makes it a popular option for solo drivers and small fleets alike. Notably, the full-size ProMaster is rapidly becoming popular with Amazon.
Ram 1500 EcoDiesel (diesel)
The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is a powerful truck option with good gas mileage. It’s equipped with a 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel engine and suitable for both solo drivers and small fleets. This truck offers a great balance of performance and mpg. Drivers can transport heavier loads without significantly increasing operating costs. Businesses can tailor the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel to their specific needs. The spacious cargo bed and various available configurations ensure this. The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is an excellent choice for those looking to optimize delivery. It boasts power, towing capacity, fuel efficiency, and versatility.
Ford E-Transit (electric)
The Ford E-Transit is an electric cargo van designed for commercial use. It’s an ideal option for small fleets prioritizing fuel efficiency. The E-Transit has an estimated range of 126 miles per charge. This means that it can handle lengthy daily delivery routes with low operating costs. You can easily tailor it to your requirements. This is due to the robust storage space and many configuration options. The Ford E-Transit also offers advanced driver-assist features. This increases its appeal to delivery drivers and fleet operators.
Chevrolet Colorado (diesel)
The Chevrolet Colorado is a midsize pickup truck that offers a strong combination of value and fuel efficiency, for solo delivery drivers and small fleets alike. The Colorado delivers strong performance with its 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel engine. It still maintains an impressive mpg that enables drivers to transport large loads without high operating costs. The truck's manageable size also makes it easier to handle in city traffic compared to larger pickup trucks.
The Colorado offers a variety of configurations and trim levels that enables businesses to customize the vehicle according to their specific requirements.
Overall, the Chevrolet Colorado is a versatile and cost-effective choice for delivery operations that offers a blend of power, efficiency, and adaptability.
Cars, trucks, and vans for delivery drivers in Europe
European drivers need vehicles that offer efficiency and reliability, along with the ability to navigate narrow streets and tight parking spaces. Here’s our selection of vehicles that fit the unique demands of the European market:
Best cars for delivery in Europe
Renault Zoe (electric). An affordable and popular electric vehicle with an impressive range. Suitable for navigating dense urban environments.
Volkswagen e-Golf (electric). This version of the classic Volkswagen Golf is a practical electric vehicle with ample cargo space. It offers a smooth driving experience for both solo drivers and small fleets.
Peugeot e-208 (electric). A stylish electric car with a competitive range. Low operating costs.
Best trucks and vans for delivery in Europe
Renault Kangoo Z.E. (electric). A fully electric commercial van with a spacious cargo area and various configuration options. Perfect for diverse delivery needs.
Mercedes-Benz eSprinter (electric): EU version. An electric cargo van, smaller than the US version and designed for urban delivery routes. The van has advanced driver-assist technologies for enhanced safety.
Ford Transit Custom (diesel). A versatile and reliable diesel van. Has several configurations, suitable for various delivery requirements in Europe.
Cars, trucks, and vans for delivery drivers in Asia
Drivers in Asia need reliable cars that provide fuel efficiency. They often need to navigate congested urban environments. Here’s our choice of vehicles for the unique demands of the Asian market:
Best cars for delivery in Asia
Nissan Leaf (electric). A popular and affordable electric vehicle with a competitive range. Ideal for navigating congested urban areas.
Toyota Prius (hybrid): Asian version(s). A well-known hybrid car that boasts excellent fuel efficiency. Spacious interior for deliveries.
Honda Fit (gasoline). A compact and fuel-efficient option. Offers a surprising amount of cargo space for its size.
Best trucks and vans for delivery in Asia
Toyota HiAce (diesel). A versatile and reliable van, with many configurations suitable for various delivery requirements.
Mitsubishi Fuso Canter (diesel). A light-duty truck with a reputation for durability and fuel efficiency. Ideal for urban deliveries.
Suzuki Carry (gasoline). A compact and affordable truck. Perfect for navigating tight spaces and narrow streets in Asian cities.
In conclusion, choosing the right vehicle for your deliveries enables efficient and cost-effective delivery management. Whether you’re a solo delivery driver or operating a small fleet, we hope this helps you make your choice!
With a unique blend of industry experience, academic credentials and writing chops, Martin Rifbjerg Munkholt is a B2B copywriter and optimization specialist. Armed with an MBA, Lean and Six Sigma certifications, and years of expertise in the food industry, Martin's passion and knowledge shine through in every piece he crafts.
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