The Indian auto industry boasts of vehicles in a host of body styles, including sedans, hatchbacks and Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs). One of these is a van, which is mainly used for transporting people as well as cargo. In a van, the focus is more on judicious utilisation of space rather than comfort and convenience features, as its purpose is to carry a load. On the other hand, a minivan emphasises equally on passenger comfort as well as space, thus making it suitable as a family vehicle. In a van, the engine is usually located in the rear, while in a minivan it is placed in the front. Globally, minivans are also offered as Multi Purpose Vehicle (MPV), Multi Utility Vehicles (MUV) and people carriers.

What are the chief characteristics of a standard van?

In terms of body style, a van is similar to a hatchback, but is longer and higher in its proportions. It does not have a dedicated bonnet or trunk and looks boxy. It boasts of ample space in the cabin, which can be utilised to transit cargo and individuals both. However, buyers should not expect a host of comfort or safety features in such vehicles.

What are the key purposes for using a van?

In urban areas, a van is used as a passenger carrier and ferries people from one place to another while keeping the fuel expenses to a minimum. It is a cheaper way for commuting, since it has the potential to carry 6-7 people at low costs. Such vehicles are usually used by educational institutions and offices as cabs to pick up and drop people. These can also be used to carry small luggage or equipment safely with a city. If modified, a van can be also used as an ambulance, since the vehicle has ample space to fit beds and carry patients. 

What is the difference between a van and a minivan?

A van is basically a box-shaped vehicle which is designed particularly to meet the purposes of freight. It has a body-on-frame built and normally does not have very comfortable seating for passengers. On the other hand, a minivan is especially designed for family use though it also has a two box design. Keeping in mind its utility for families, a minivan boasts of several features in a competitive price range. Such vehicles can easily accommodate more than five passengers with a lot of luggage on long trips. A minivan is built on unibody car chassis and, thus, drives like a normal car.

What are the basic criteria that should be taken into account while purchasing a van?

While considering purchasing a van, the buyer should keep in mind the safety features of the car, which exist in a bare minimum on models in this segment. Additionally, a van should possess decent comfort features in case it is used for family purposes. If the individual has to use the vehicle for business operations, the vehicle should have configurable seating arrangement at the rear, in order to create ample space in the cabin. Besides, a van should contain quality components which ensure a long-life of the vehicle.

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