If you’re fed up of being bamboozled by industry jargon (or think you’re in danger of embarking on a very long ride), take comfort in the knowledge you’re not alone.

The We Got Any Van Glossary of Van & Light Commercial Vehicle Terms provides simple explanations of all vehicle-related terms you’re ever likely to encounter.


Originally an abbreviation for four-wheel-drive, the term 4x4 is commonly used as a synonym for off-road vehicles.


Acronym for four-wheel-drive (see 4x4).


Acronym for anti-lock braking system which prevents a vehicle’s brakes from causing the wheels to stop spinning suddenly as this causes skidding.


Acronym for annual percentage rate which is the interest payable during every year of a finance contract when it is expressed as a percentage of a vehicle’s original purchase price.

Chassis cab

A particular van design that is based on a fully-enclosed cockpit and separate rear frame that is usually highly customisable.

Contract hire

A form of vehicle leasing (rental) that is used by businesses to acquire a new van, truck or special-purpose vehicle, and requires fixed, monthly payments to be made for a duration that is set out in a formal contract.


A term used historically to describe standard vans and trucks that have been modified by commercial vehicle bodybuilders to provide them with additional functionality, but is also used to refer to the growing number of factory-manufactured special-purpose van and truck variants.

Conversion examples include refrigerated vans, mobile catering vehicles (ice-cream, fish & chip and "kebab" vans), storage vehicles, and camper van and motorhomes – which are finding commercial use as promotional and touring vehicles.


An accounting term that refers to the drop in the resale value of a van or truck relative to its initial purchase price.

"Wear and tear" through regular usage, additional mileage, and repairs to accident damage all affect the depreciable value of a commercial vehicle, and can have an impact on end-of-lease calculations of a vehicle’s residual value.

A light commercial vehicle that has reached its maximum permitted level of depreciation will often be written down (or amortised) for tax and accounting purposes.


Acronym for the United Kingdom’s Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency which is responsible for maintaining registers of vehicles and drivers on behalf of the government.

Hybrid Vehicle

A vehicle that can be powered by an internal combustion vehicle as well as an electric motor to reduce the impact of environmental emissions (particularly when driving in traffic).

Under current legislation hybrid vans and trucks qualify for vehicle tax and London Congestion Charge discounts and exemptions.


A term used to describe small, car and non-car-derived vans that have been designed to facilitate driving in urban environments by incorporating a small footprint that produces a smaller turning circle.

Monthly payments take account of the financing cost of the vehicle and the impact of the lease on its depreciable value (see depreciation).


A term used to describe small, car and non-car-derived vans that have been designed to facilitate driving in urban environments by incorporating a small footprint that produces a smaller turning circle.

Microvans are also referred to as "city vans" and feature internal trim (and comfort levels) to passenger cars.


A name that is used to describe large vans used for carrying passengers. Minibuses are popular with schools, sports teams and community groups.


Originally an acronym for the (now disbanded) United Kingdom Ministry of Transport, MOT now popularly refers to a mandatory test of a vehicle’s safety, roadworthiness and emissions that is performed annually by government-approved test centres in the United Kingdom.

Larger vans are charged a higher fee for the test than minivans or light vans (which pay the same tariff as passenger cars).


An acronym for miles per gallon which can be used to describe the theoretical as well as actual fuel consumption of a vehicle as measured by total number of miles travelled when the engine combusts a single gallon of fuel.


Acronym for multi-purpose vehicle, this is usually a minivan with room for around six-15 people.

Panel van

The term panel van is used in the United Kingdom to refer to a particular type of van that with a rigid body and no side or rear windows which was originally created from the chassis and body of a passenger car.


Acronym for a type of financing called personal contract purchase that is structured as a lease with an option to purchase the vehicle on the expiration of the contract.

People carrier

A large passenger van.

Pickup truck

A light commercial vehicle that features separate cabin and loading areas and may additionally be configured for special purpose use as a tipper or dropside.

Ply lining

A protective plywood lining that protects the internal panels of a van from damage and is often used to support the addition of wooden compartments and shelving.

The term is also used to refer to non-plywood linings now manufactured from lightweight polymer and composite materials.

Refrigerated van

A van that is fitted with a refrigeration condenser and is thermally insulated to support the transportation of goods that need to be kept in a cold or frozen state (these can range from meat and other foodstuff to medication and organic compounds).

Residual value

A vehicle’s value on the expiration of a lease (or other funding arrangement).

Roof racks

An externally-mounted rack that is capable of extending the load carrying capacity of a van.


A flap at the rear of a truck that is usually hinged so that it can be lowered to facilitate loading of cargoes.


A vehicle registration certificate (logbook) that records information about the keeper of a vehicle as identified by its vehicle identification number (VIN) in the United Kingdom.


Acronym for vehicle identification number – a standardised code and serial number that is used to identify individual vehicles and is unique.

VINs, which are also referred to as chassis numbers, can be used to search DVLA records of a vehicle’s history.

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