While utes and SUVs are king of the sales charts, the humble van will always hold a place in tradies’hearts. Whether you’re a plumber, painter, builder or courier driver, it’s hard to look elsewhere for a trusty office on wheels.

At first glance, vans might still look the same as they did in the 90s, but with the help of technology, they have evolved into a safe and practical workhorse. Here are three of our favourites you may see bustling around your neighborhood.

Toyota Hiace

There’s a clear sales leader and surprise, surprise – it’s a Toyota. The Hiace has been the best seller for decades now and in 2017 achieved total sales of 2961 vans.

Toyota achieves these numbers by being simple, rugged and reliable - there's nothing fancy about the big box on wheels. The dependable four-cylinder petrol engine is mounted underneath the passenger compartment to maximise available load space, and it can take a pallet of freight with ease.

The Hiace achieved a four star ANCAP safety rating in 2011 by incorporating modern safety features to ensure the driver is given the tools to stay in control.

Hiace is another word for “reliable”, according to Toyota. We have to agree. Built tough, but with stylish, modern looks, it has the kind of capacity other vans can only dream about.

Hyundai iLoad

This Korean manufacturer provides everything you need in a van, and then some. Big, strong and reliable, they're practical and extremely cost efficient.

Aimed directly at the tradie market, the iLoad is available in two options. Both powered by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, the difference lies in the transmission. The six speed manual provides 100kW of power, while the five-speed automatic box is the best performer of the two with 441 Nm of torque and 125kW. Both models include dual front and side airbags, ABS brakes and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) which helped them achieve four star ANCAP safety ratings.

Nissan e-NV200

The new Nissan e-NV200 van will please environmentally-friendly folk. The “e” of course means electric. This battery-powered plug -van is now available in a 40 kWh variety providing a 200km range. It even features a ‘Power Plug’, which enables tradies to plug their tools into outlets installed in the vehicle.

Unfortunately, these vans are few and far between as Nissan NZ doesn’t stock them, but we are seeing some used imports flow into the country. Companies such as Pluto Electrics in Wellington have taken the dive into the electric world, purchasing one of these machines for the price of $27,000 from the UK. With a simple $3 charge, no oil changes, filters and spark plugs, Pluto Electrics have a huge reduction in overheads and a lower cost of ownership.

The e-NV200has a cargo capacity of 4.2m³ and can carry a weight of up to 770kg. It has all the bells and whistles, including heated seats and a heated steering wheel, and with a smooth delivery of torque, it’s a pleasure to drive. The e-NV200 is yet to be ANCAP tested.

Vans for tradies weren’t always the prettiest of vehicles with gumboots dangling off the rear bumper bars, paint splattered throughout the interior and more bumps and bruises than you could count, but they’ve always remained true to their job – being reliable workhorses. These days with enhanced safety, improved comfort and technology they can be enjoyable to drive too...

Previous post
Next post
Your rights when buying a car under the Consumer Guarantees Act
Read more
BMW gives us a sneak peak into the Electric Mini
Read more