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I've been tasked with spec'ing and pricing a cargo van for my company and although I'm big into racing cars and motorcycles, I know almost nothing about towing/cargo vehicles/trucks.
SITUATION / USE
We are a chemical company and this van will be used 90% for local hauling of drums and boxes, perhaps up to a few thousand pounds at a time, but typically maybe 1,000 pounds or less. The other 10% could potentially be used for longer out of town or out of state deliveries.
It will be used year round in the Northeastern U.S., so cold and snowy winters with icy roads and hot/humit summers.
We are looking in the $30,000 range, but it's fairly flexible depending on necessity and availability. The boss loves feeling like he got a deal (like all business owners), but we need what we need. If I tell him mid 30's is where we're looking, he's gonna wanna get something for low 30's; if I tell him it's gonna be 30k, he's gonna wanna spend $28k, etc.
We don't need a lot of bells and whistles, but since I'm gonna be driving it most of the time, and potentially on longer trips, in the winter, etc, I wouldn't mind some "basics" like cruise control and remote door locks, which could add a bit.
I guess my biggest questions have to do with how heavy-duty we need to go. For our use, is an E150 with a V8 gonna be just fine or will we want a 250? The V10? Or even a 350 for those extra heavy loads that I'm sure they'll find a way to pack in once in a while? What are the payloads on each? I don't think we'll be towing but a tow package might be a good thing to have handy for those unforeseen circumstances.
Also, are the heavy-duty battery and alternator "must-haves" for our situation or would we just be wasting our budget? Is an engine block heater necessary for a van/motor like this in this area? We use em on our diesel fleet trucks but this is just a gasoline motor and I don't typically see issues with our cars even in the cold winter, so will there be a difference I'm not seeing with the motors in these vans?
I guess just any tips or advice would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Since you are hauling drums, I highly recommend you get an E-350 cutaway series with a cargo box and a liftgate. Getting barrels into and out of a standard E-series is a major pain in the ***.
I own a farm, and for moving our pesticides and chems we have an E-superduty with a liftgate and 14 foot box. Downsides are, of course, fuel economy and its a bit of a trick to drive in the city traffic.
You can stand upright and get a dolly under drums in a box van. The other nice thing about a box is you can install e-track or similar to secure the drums during transport, while that is a bit difficult to do on standard bodied vans. You would also have the flexibility to use loading docks AND residential/small business delivery with such a setup. We have also used ours to fork in large pallets.
For around 32k you can usually get a NEW DRW box. You can also get SRW box vans (single rear wheel) which use much less fuel, but are narrower. They also have lower capacities.
If you are referring to 5 and 10 gallon 'barrels' then you could get away with an E150. They are rated to carry 3200lbs internally and quite easy to drive. Both v8s are decent engines, but if you think you are gonna tow i would spec the 5.4. if you are gonna be towing BIG, then an e350 with the V10 is rated to tow 10000lbs.
The HD alternator option would be wasted on a base cargo van unless you outfitted it with power hungry accessories (such as a large inverter, aux climate control, etc). I have never needed block heaters on a gas engine. Unless you spend a lot of time in the 0's most new engines are alright without it. I plug my diesels in at 20.
IMO, used E vans represent the best in automotive transportation value. Their value drops like a stone in the first few years and that's where the smart money should be looking. 2-3 years old, means somebody else took the big depreciation hit and left you some warranty.
Sorry for the late response, guys. Big audit just happened end of last week that wiped out the rest of my free time. Thanks a lot to everyone for all the advice. I'm gonna review everything here and weigh my options. It doesn't sound like a couple year old E350 would be a bad choice. I still have to look into regulations for what we're transporting as far as driver separation but I doubt we'll be putting full sized 55 gallon drums in the van; most likely smaller 20 liter or similar drums and containers, along with boxes. Our loading dock won't allow for us to use a forklift to load full pallets into a van even if they fit due to height contraints.
There are SRW cutaways too. Might be a better choice for them if they need full partitioning and do not need the higher weight capacity, insurance costs and slightly increased maintenance.
I've seen a bunch of that style in Chevys, but not a Ford. I am sure they're out there in Ford's version, but how easy are they to find? Also, if they are available, I wonder if he could find a new one for the $30K he's looking to spend. I know I've seen year old Chevy's for much less, like $20K or so, but maybe that's because the Express is known for being a troublesome van. I read somewhere that it's the single most recalled vehicle in America. Not trying to say that all Chevys are junk, but that Express sure isn't the van those old G20s were. Anyway, I digress. LOL! If those SRW cutaways are available in Ford's version, that would be a good option.
Well, just for grins and giggles I went to Ford's site to see what I could find. MSRP on a brand new E-350 SRW cutaway, with tow package, aluminum rims, cloth seats, and dark blue paint runs $28,160. I have no idea what the box would cost, but maybe it wouldn't be so much more that buying something brand new would be completely out of the question.
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