Vans are a do-it-all, utility vehicle that have a place in our hearts, from the iconic Mystery Machine in everyone’s favourite Scooby Doo cartoons that can carry a whole team of private investigators and large-sized dog to today’s beloved package delivery man bringing presents from the internet. With its upsized capacity, there are endless possibilities and functions that these versatile vans can perform. From carrying commuters to cargo, these capable carriers buck the adage that less is more. While it is clear that vans can help a person or a company accomplish a lot, it is less clear whether a cheap van rental or buying one outright is better.
Pros and Cons of Van Rentals
Van rental prices are one of the biggest advantages of choosing a cheap van rental instead of buying. The monthly rental is a convenient all-in-one1 fee that includes road tax, insurance, service and maintenance which can add up to quite a fair amount.
Although leased vehicles can vary in age, there are also leases of brand new vehicles. An advantage of leasing is that the lessee can change to a different van after every few years, given that a typical contract lasts for 3 – 5 years. This is an especially valid consideration as electric vehicles are becoming more efficient and viable for commercial purposes. Buying a van and fully paying off the loan in 7 years to be saddled with an obsolete vehicle instead of a productive asset negates the main advantages of buying altogether.
This shorter commitment period with leasing contracts is advantageous as it brings with it the flexibility to extend the contract, amend it or upgrade of vehicle.
This brings us to some drawbacks of cheap van rentals. Contracts may include a clause for excessive use that restricts wear and tear such as disallowing unspecified drivers, putting limits on total mileage or to restrict operation of the vehicle outside of the country. There may also be restrictions in the event of an accident, since the insurance policy is included in the contract.
As with any amendment of contract terms after signing on the agreement, costs may be incurred. Likewise, breaking the leasing contract prior to expiry can be expensive so although it is a shorter term commitment than buying a commercial vehicle, it still places a financial burden on the lessee for some time.
On the other hand, a passenger van rental can make accounting sense by presenting it as an operating expense rather than having a capital expense on the books. Additionally, the company may wish to avoid listing a liability such as one incurred when taking a loan to buy a car.
Pros and Cons of Buying a Van
Ownership comes with a certain amount of freedom. When the company considers the prevailing van rental prices and chooses to own instead of rent, it is free to operate, maintain, use and even customise as it sees appropriate. Operating costs can be controlled by using cheaper workshops and cosmetic repairs can be delayed if necessary. At the end of the service life of the commercial vehicle, it can also recover some costs.
If purchasing first-hand, the newest model vehicle can be obtained and almost always, the mileage would also be lower. This is beneficial because newer vehicles perform better than older ones, needing less repairs, are more fuel efficient and are in better general condition.
Buying a commercial vehicle could also be a good option when interest rates are low or if the creditworthiness of a buyer entitles him to the best rates. The disadvantages are that these loans are considered when calculating a person’s Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) which limits an individual’s debt ratio.
The downside is that the buyer has to bear all the costs of ownership such as the down payment, maintenance and repair costs, COE bidding, road tax and eventual disposal. It is a long term commitment and some of these costs like servicing and repair can get most expensive with age.
Finally, because servicing a loan can be a long term commitment, there is a risk of default unlike when one is just leasing. A default will negatively affect credit worthiness and may affect application for other loans in the future.
Which is Better – Cheap Van Rentals Or Buying a Van?
Choosing which route to go down depends on many factors, especially the economic climate which determines the future business outlook as well as uncertainty. There is a global trend towards default on car loans and that can be taken as an indicator of difficult times and also as a signal that interest rates will increase to mitigate the effect of the defaults if it persists.
Aside from these macroeconomic factors, there are 3 main considerations to take. First is liquidity and cash flow. Buying a commercial vehicle involves large upfront costs. Taking advantage of a cheap van rental helps to reduce the financial burden and spreads out the costs over time. If this van is integral to the business operation, it helps generate cash flow to finance its monthly costs.
Next is maintenance, especially if your enterprise needs to operate a fleet of vans. The all-in-one pricing which includes servicing, accident recovery and repairs could help to streamline the business instead of having to dedicate time to do everything by oneself.
Finally, there is the consideration of total cost over the period that the commercial vehicle is used. This includes all promotions, cashback and inducements given by the leasing or dealership and also takes into consideration prevailing factors like interest rates and COE prices. When these are all taken into account, then one can properly appreciate the softer factors like choice, flexibility and convenience, and make a fully informed choice.