Ute vs. Truck – Choosing the right vehicle for the job

Do you struggle to keep your light commercial fleet vehicles under their weight limits? An ever-increasing challenge in the light commercial vehicle industry is the payload capacity of utes and vans that have the GVM capacity between 2.7 – 3.5 Ton and the concern and liability of exceeding this.

Did you know?

  • Overloaded vehicles jeopardise the safety of your drivers and run the risk of incurring some hefty fines and long-term damage to your vehicles.
  • An overloaded vehicle is going to cost your business more in fuel and vehicle repairs and affect its performance on the road.
  • If a vehicle is involved in a crash while overloaded, that’s also going to impact on insurance claims.
  • Running an overloaded vehicle could significantly increase Ute repair bills and lead to unexpected vehicle downtime.

There are many options available out there, and this always brings up the old dilemmas of what to choose. Choosing the right vehicle allows you to have the right amount of fit-out and gear to be safer, more efficient, and useful for your business and fleet.

Choosing the right vehicle for the job.

What vehicle will work best for you, your staff, and Return on Investment? To answer this question correctly, you need to consider the critical weights of your vehicle, which we will cover in more detail below:

There are three critical weights you need to know when considering a light commercial vehicle that will carry a lot of tools, stock and equipment to get the maximum return for your fleet.

  • GVM: The Gross vehicle mass, or maximum loaded capacity of the vehicle.
  • Payload: the load carried by a vehicle exclusive of what is necessary for its operation
  • Kerb Weight: Vehicle weight when it’s not loaded with passengers and luggage. It includes a full tank of fuel.’

Calculating your vehicle’s payload capacity

For this equation, you’ll need to know the weight of the tools, equipment, and stock you are carrying as well as the weight of the fit-out you will be fitting to your light commercial vehicle.

From here, you will be able to ensure you choose a vehicle that is fit for your purpose, that won’t exceed its GVM, and will get you the best return on investment. Choosing the right vehicle will, in turn, save you and your fleet money, time, frustration and most importantly increase your drivers’ safety.

No matter what your trade or service is, the payload capacity of your fleet vehicle of choice should be a top consideration, from both a practical and safety point of view. An overloaded vehicle is an unsafe vehicle. Weight affects stability and braking effectiveness.

Light Truck, Ute or Van?

Utes generally have a GVM between 2.7 – 3.2-ton rating and although a certified GVM suspension upgrade is available increasing the vehicles GVM, in most cases, an additional 300kg to 3.5 ton. With many fit-outs of trays, service bodies including passengers, very often the capacity is right on the limit, giving a likelihood of overloading and affecting the towing capacity.

Light trucks are often as compact and easily manoeuvrable as a Ute and are engineered to handle heavier payloads with higher towing capacity than a Utility vehicle. With a standard full drivers full license (class 1) you can drive a vehicle up to, but not more than 6000kg, which opens a lot of potential in the light commercial vehicle market.

This calls for careful consideration when making an informed decision regarding your next vehicle or fleet purchase.


If the size of a vehicle is a priority, a light truck will offer more bang-for-buck than a ute or van concerning both cabin layout and that all-important payload capacity.

A dual-cab truck will comfortably cart a larger team without a negative impact on the payload, while extra room in the back and front will be handy when it comes to storing and finding work tools.

A work vehicle isn’t just all work and no play. With a light truck, you’ll have the versatility, additional space and power needed for the caravan, dirt bikes, camping gear, the whole family and the dog – all without the worry of being overweight and unsafe.


Often a build that is suited to purpose is entirely custom made and can take anything between six weeks to four months (sometimes longer) to be delivered from the production start date. Auto Transform has a wide range of modular build options that can be made bespoke to you and completed within a six week turnaround time.

Final considerations

Utes and Light trucks are both able to have similar fit-outs, and fleet managers are increasingly looking to the light truck as a better solution for payload capacity, fuel efficiencies, maintenance longevity and better safety for their drivers.

The type of vehicle you choose: Light Truck, Ute or Van all depends on what you need and expect. Just be sure to check that you can legally and safely carry the crew, materials, tools and equipment on the vehicle you choose.

Auto Transform works closely with our clients, providing the experience, expertise, and tools to assist in making the right key decisions when planning your vehicle fit-out or fleet solution. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team today.

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