Cheapest van to maintain

  • Compared the market to find the cheapest van to run
  • Many different aspects van running costs
  • We take a look at van fuel costs, van parts prices, depreciation and more

Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen total life costs playing an increasing role for van operators when they are looking for their next vehicle. There are many different aspects affecting van running costs, and we’ve compared the market for:

  • Cheapest vans for repairs and parts
  • Most fuel-efficient van
  • Van depreciation rates compared
  • Cheapest vans to insure

It’s very hard to determine the cheapest van to run, as different operators have different requirements and clock up different mileages. The other main factors that affect total cost of ownership are insurance, tax, depreciation and cost of finance (if applicable).

Cheapest vans for repairs and parts

We approached all the leading UK van manufacturers, asking for a quote to replace a set list of items (a nearside headlight, a nearside door mirror, a front bumper, a windscreen and a replacement key). We then categorised and published the full list of quotes in descending order, and the van with the cheapest repair bill in each category was determined the winner.

Small Vans

Renault Kangoo

Winner: Renault Kangoo – £1,014 plus VAT (£760 parts, £254 fitting)

Taking first place in the small van sector was the Renault Kangoo. French manufacturers have the reputation of being expensive for parts and, while this is true for Peugeot and Citroen, Renault ran out the winner in this sector.

Medium Vans

Ford Transit Custom

Winner: Ford Transit Custom – £1,005 (£820 parts, £185 fitting)

As we move up into the medium vans, Ford (who came second in the small van sector) come out on top, with the total bill coming to just £1,005 – which is less than the best small van bill. What was key to Ford’s success was the low hourly labour rate of just £50.

Large Vans

Volkswagen Crafter

Winner: Volkswagen Crafter – £1,275.50 plus VAT (£894 parts, £381.50 fitting)

Quite understandably, there’s quite a big difference in the price of parts for medium vans and large vans, which is mainly due to the cost of the windscreen. Volkswagen’s 72-strong ‘Van Centres’ are renowned for their performance and, for large vans at least, they also represent huge value for money.

Most Fuel-Efficient Van

Fuel costs constitute the largest contributor to total cost of ownership after depreciation, with the average large van operator spending £1,786 a year on fuel (based on 15,000 miles at 109.9p per litre of diesel). We’ve been through the results and calculated the cheapest vans to fuel. We’ve categorised the results as the smaller vans, with their smaller engines and air-resistance, are far more fuel-efficient than the large vans.

Small Vans

Ford Transit Connect

Winner: Ford Transit Connect (70.6mpg)

Small vans, are quite obviously, the most fuel-efficient sector. Now with a maximum fuel economy of over 70mpg on the combined cycle, the Ford Transit Connect is the best-in-class, although this can be increased to 74.3mpg if the optional speed-limiter is fitted.

Medium Vans

Renault Trafic Sport

Vauxhall Vivaro

Winner: Renault Trafic/Vauxhall Vivaro (47.9mpg)

The medium van sector has experienced a lot of change recently, with Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Renault and Vauxhall all bringing out new vehicles. However it was the Renault Trafic and Vauxhall Vivaro which triumphed in fuel economy, achieving a respectable 47.9mpg.

Large Vans

Fiat Ducato

Winner: Fiat Ducato (45.6mpg)

Winning the large panel van sector by some margin is the Fiat Ducato. Despite sharing the same chassis as the Peugeot Boxer and Citroen Relay, the Fiat Ducato uses its own 2.3-litre Multijet engine, which is around 10 percent more efficient than its Peugeot and Citroen siblings.

Van depreciation rates compared

Over the course of your new van’s first three years, owners lose more money through van depreciation than any other factor, including fuel, insurance and servicing costs. Across the three sectors (small, medium and large vans), an average of between £14,000 and £15,000 will be lost through van residual values in the first 36 months.

Small van residual values (between three and 4.5 cubic metres)

Ford Transit Connect

Small vans, on average, retain around 26 percent of their original value after three years and 60,000 miles. Winning this sector with 31.5 percent retention is the Ford Transit Connect, although the Nissan NV200 will lose less value in real terms thanks to its much lower list price (28 percent retention; depreciates by £10,700).

Winner: Ford Transit Connect 

Average list price: £16,347

Average depreciation: 31.5 percent

Value after three years/60,000 miles: £5,138

Amount lost in depreciation: £11,209

Medium van residual values (between 4.5 and seven cubic metres)

VW Transporter

When it comes to holding their value, medium vans perform the strongest thanks to their high demand (large enough for most van operators, while small enough to easily manoeuvre and fit on a drive). Most medium vans hold around 28 percent of their original list price, and it’s no surprise that the VW Transporter wins with 37 percent due to its respected built quality and high desirability.

Winner: Volkswagen Transporter

Average list price: £21,835

Average retention: 37 percent

Value after three years/60,000 miles: £7,988

Amount lost in depreciation: £13,847

Large van residual values (above 7.5 cubic metres)

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Large vans perform quite poorly when it comes to residual values, with the average vehicle holding between 25 and 26 percent of its original value. With its renowned build quality and high levels of comfort and refinement, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter wins this segment thanks to a respectable 29 percent retention after three years and 60,000 miles.

Winner: Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 

Average list price: £26,875

Average retention: 29 percent

Value after three years/60,000 miles: £7,913

Amount lost in depreciation: £18,962

Cheapest vans to insure

When it comes to total life costs, we tend to think of depreciation, servicing costs and fuel economy. An often overlooked aspect is insurance, and this article breaks down all three sectors (small, medium and large vans) to present you with the cheapest vans for insurance.

Small Panel Vans (up to 4.5 cubic metres)

Renault Kangoo 2015

Winner: Renault Kangoo

Not surprisingly, the quotes we received for the entry-level small vans varied very little, with the winning quote working out at £391 for the year. Leading the small van section is the Renault Kangoo, thanks to its very basic spec, low list price and fairly gutless 69bhp, 1.5-litre engine.

Medium Panel Vans (4.5 to 7.5 cubic metres)

Fiat Scudo

Winner: Fiat Scudo

Moving up into the medium panel van sector, the variation in price begins to increase. Despite sharing the same engine, chassis and specification as the Citroen Dispatch, Peugeot Expert and Toyota Proace, the Fiat Scudo works out as the cheapest to insure and also boasts the best warranty.

Large Panel Vans (over 7.5 cubic metres)

Peugeot Boxer

Winner: Peugeot Boxer

In the heavyweight sector, the Iveco Daily works out at over 25 percent more expensive to insure than the winner, the Peugeot Boxer, for our representative example. Another surprising aspect that came out of this comparison was just how much more expensive large van insurance is compared with small and medium vans.