If you’re thinking about starting a food truck business, you’ve probably spent some time looking at vehicles. Choosing the best vehicle for your food truck can be hard. With so many different makes and models, it can be challenging to know what to look for to fit the needs of your mobile food business.
That said, there is one type of vehicle you should probably be looking at more than others, and that is the step van. These trucks are perhaps the most popular vehicle choice amongst food truck owners, and for good reason.
But what are step vans? And why are they the best vehicles for food trucks? Luckily, your friends at FLIP are here to answer your questions. Let’s get started.
WHY ARE STEP VANS THE BEST VEHICLES FOR FOOD TRUCKS?
If you’ve ever seen a food truck, chances are you’ve also seen a step van. Also referred to as “bread trucks” or “multi-stop trucks,” step vans are light- to medium-duty vehicles commonly used for local deliveries. In fact, UPS and Fed-Ex have almost exclusively used step vans to deliver packages for more than 50 years.
Step vans have been used for a variety of purposes over the years, but they’ve recently achieved popularity as the best vehicles for food trucks. Why? Well, if you think about it, they’re kind of perfect for the job.
Step vans are tall enough to stand up in and have spacious cargo areas for your food preparation equipment. Because they are lower to the ground than other trucks, they also make entering the vehicle and communicating with customers much easier.
Step vans come in a variety of sizes, with cargo areas ranging from 14 feet to as much as 30 feet in length, so you are likely to find a good truck for your business regardless of the food you plan to serve. Just remember that the longer the truck is, the easier it can be to cause or be involved in an accident, so choose wisely when considering the best truck for your needs!
WHERE CAN YOU PURCHASE A STEP VAN FOOD TRUCK?
Another great thing about step vans that makes them the best vehicles for food trucks is that there are so many of them. This makes it easy to find a reasonably-priced truck in your local area.
Depending on what you’re looking for, there are many places to find a good quality step van. Unfortunately, UPS doesn’t resell their old delivery vehicles, so if you want to purchase an unmodified truck, you’ll want to check out your local truck dealers. Of course, there are also many online marketplaces, such as eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace where you can occasionally find good deals on high-quality step vans.
If, on the other hand, you are looking for a step van that has already had the necessary modifications to become a food truck, you may have a harder time finding a vehicle that fits your food business needs. There are companies that sell pre-manufactured food trucks, but those vehicles—while high-quality—can get pretty pricey.
Regardless of where you look for your step van, there are a few things you should consider before making the purchase. These are things beyond typical vehicle information like price, mileage, etc. Doing so can save you time and money in the long run when it comes to converting the truck to fit the needs of your business.
Chassis & Body Manufacturers
Most step vans have separate manufacturers for the chassis (or frame) and the body of the truck. This is important because the manufacturer that created the body of your truck may not be the same one that created the chassis.
When looking at step vans, it’s important to keep in mind that length only refers to the cargo area within the truck (just the inside), not the total length of the vehicle (bumper to bumper).
Every truck has a different carrying capacity. This is referred to as the gross vehicle weight, or GVW. When looking at the best step vans for your food truck, it’s important to have a good idea of how much your equipment weighs so you don’t overburden or damage your vehicle.
Although it sounds funny, the back door can make or break your food truck design. A sliding door can reduce the total interior height of your truck and limit where you can put certain pieces of equipment. If possible, look for a truck with swinging doors to save yourself time and money on modification.
3 STEP VAN MAKES & MODELS
As mentioned before, there are dozens of different models you can look at when choosing the best vehicle for your food truck. But there are a few of the most popular makes and models you can use as a starting point as you begin your search.
Chevy P30 is a great place to start when looking for a vehicle for your food truck. As one of the most common step van models, these trucks are easy to find and, perhaps more importantly, easy to convert and find replacement parts. They come in 14, 16, and 18 foot interiors and have a GVW between 10,000–16,000 pounds.
If your food truck requires a little more strength, Chevrolet also created a larger, heavier step van called the P60 with lengths between 18 and 24 feet and a GVW of 23,000 pounds.
Another popular food truck vehicle, the Freightliner MT45 comes in 16 and 18 foot lengths and has a 19,000 pound GVW. Technically categorized as a medium-duty truck, it’s one of the best vehicles for your food truck if your business requires a lot of equipment and storage.
Freightliner also creates two other step vans which are great options for food trucks, the MT35 and the MT55 which come in 14 and 18–24 foot lengths respectively.
If versatility is what your business needs, you can’t get much better than the Ford P700. While it’s not the most spacious of step vans, with a 14 foot interior length, it’s maneuverability and 14,000 pound GVW make this truck worth considering. Plus, Ford continues to manufacture these models, making them easy to find and easy to repair.
PROTECT YOUR STEP VAN FOOD TRUCK WITH FLIP
We hope this article has helped you in your search for the best vehicle for your food truck. As you continue your search for the truck of your dreams, we hope you find one that meets all of your mobile food business needs.
While on the subject of mobile food business needs, we would be remiss if we did not mention food truck insurance. If you don’t yet have insurance for your food truck, we highly encourage you to take a look at FLIP’s food truck insurance plan, designed to protect your business from the cost of bodily injury and property damage claims, equipment damages, and more.
Protecting your food truck with FLIP is quick and easy. With our quote-free online process, you can get the customized coverage you need in less than ten minutes. So what are you waiting for? Protect your business with FLIP today!