A van is a big box on wheels that is used for transporting passengers, cargo or both. Vans are available in a variety of sizes. The word "van" is derived from the longer word "caravan," which originally referred to a covered vehicle. Although the term van is most commonly used today to refer to a cargo van, the word is used differently in various English-speaking countries. For instance, in the United States, the word van can also refer to a box-shaped trailer that is used for transporting goods. If the cargo consists of cold goods, the trailer would be referred to as a refrigerated van.
The precursor to modern vans was the Sedan Delivery that first came on the scene in the 1930s. Ford became the first car manufacturer to move the engine forward beneath a short hood and utilize pickup-truck components to create a full-size or standard van. Today, aftermarket shops sometimes modify the original body design in order to create a custom van. A full-size van typically has a powertrain and platform similar to that of a light truck. Compact vans began appearing in America in the 1960s, and were modeled after the Volkswagen microbus.
Some vans feature empty space behind the front seats that can be used for the transportation of goods. This is referred to as a cargo van. In a passenger van, the space behind the front seats is outfitted with passenger seating. A conversion van may feature personal comfort, including an entertainment system. Full-size vans commonly feature a short hood as the engine block has been moved inside the passenger cabin. Many vans feature a cargo barrier located behind the front seats in order to prevent unsecured cargo from causing an injury in the event of a rollover, collision or sudden deceleration. In some vans, the cargo barrier may be fitted with doors that will allow the driver to move through the barrier to the cargo area of the vehicle.
Vans have also become a popular option for mobile businesses such as service and installation companies. Hotels also commonly use vans for transporting individuals to and from locations such as airports. Many schools also use vans for transporting small sports teams. Commuter vans have become a popular option for carpooling in urban areas, as they can transport as many as 15 passengers. There is a trend amongcar manufacturers toward the creation of vans that are more fuel-efficient, which can be seen in the increased production of hybrid minivans (especially in Japan).
Minivans are more compact and family-friendly. A minivan can offer passenger seating to accommodate up to eight people and are usually more fuel-efficient than full-size vans. These plusses usually come at the cost of the cargo space, power, and towing capacity offered by less fuel-efficient full-size vans. Minivans also commonly feature dual side sliding doors.
Vans are used all over the world to transport goods and people. They can be an invaluable tool for both business owners and families. Those that need extra space in their vehicles can always count on vans.