Vans are part of a category known as ‘light commercial vehicles’.

The European classification system defines vans as “motor vehicles with at least four wheels, used for the carriage of goods and having a maximum mass not exceeding 3.5 tonnes”. They are classified as the N1 category. This category is further broken down into Class I, II and III vehicles, depending on vehicle weight.

Light commercial vehicles can also be used to transport people, in which case they are treated as passenger cars under the M categories.

A wide variety of models and sizes of light commercial vehicles are sold and used across the EU, serving a broad range of specific purposes

Many light commercial vehicles are registered through multi-stage type approval. This means that the manufacturer produces an incomplete vehicle, which is then completed by a bodybuilder. Thousands of different build-ups are available to satisfy customer needs (for instance camper vans, outside broadcasting vans, freezer boxes, etc).


Although the volumes of vans are significantly lower than those of passenger cars, they are of utmost importance for the economy and society.

Vans enable a broad range of activities, including:
– construction;
– postal and courier services;
– ambulances;
– policing and rescue operations;
– mobile workshops;
– passenger transportation (eg school buses, airport shuttles, etc).

Largely used by SMEs as business tools, vans power the European economy, helping businesses to thrive.

As they are business tools, the total cost of ownership is extremely important. Fuel consumption, price and maintenance costs are decisive factors for customers.

Vans are key players in the logistics chain, enabling the ‘last mile’ delivery of goods in urban areas.

Thanks to vans, businesses can deliver goods right to their customers’ doors. This is all the more important given the surge in online purchasing by consumers, who expect rapid and direct deliveries.

Van-derived cars are the most effective means to carry small groups of less than eight passengers.

Serving very specific purposes, vans cannot be easily replaced by other transport services (such as public transport or carsharing).

Figures about the importance of vans in this factsheet

Road freight transport is the backbone of trade and commerce on the European continent. Trucks carry 75% of freight transported over land, delivering 14 billion tonnes of goods per year.

Buses are the most widely-used form of public transport in the EU, serving cities as well as suburban and rural areas. They are also the most cost-efficient and flexible form of public transport, requiring minimal investments to launch new lines or routes.