When it comes to the transport needs of small businesses, particularly in the trades, the classic conundrum that often arises is, ‘truck or ute?’
Both have their place, and you should tailor this very important decision to the operating needs of your business – as best as possible.
That said, with recent changes to Chain of Responsibility (CoR) compliance laws coming to the forefront, making sure your vehicle is fit for purpose is more important than ever.
No matter what your trade or service, payload will be near the top of your considerations, from both a practical and safety point of view.
Light trucks, in some cases, are as compact and easily manoeuvrable as utes, and are specifically engineered to handle heavier payloads than their smaller cousins. This makes trucks a sensible fit for a multitude of trades, from carpentry, concreting and plumbing through to landscaping or field service.
A truck with payload to spare can provide extra peace of mind, ensuring compliance with CoR obligations, and minimising the risks of potentially overloading your vehicle and copping a fine.
While some 4×4 utes are advertised as being able to tow up to 3500kg, loading any vehicle to its highest tolerance point for extended periods will wear down parts and components rapidly, while putting additional strain on the engine. And this is all before considering the unintended cost of increased fuel usage while performing any towing tasks.
And it’s all too easy to overestimate towing capacity, given an attractive advertised towing capacity doesn’t always equal the real on-the-job capacity.
CHAIN OF RESPONSIBILITY
On to one of the less-fun elements of vehicle ownership: compliance.
Going forward, businesses large and small can all expect to hear much more about the Chain of Responsibility (CoR).
The road transport industry is placing a greater focus on the CoR and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is doubling down on efforts to prosecute breaches of legislation governing this.
This poses a significant threat to many businesses, though studies show small fleets are in a particularly vulnerable position. As per Isuzu’s Future of Trucking report, 35 per cent of small fleets are completely unprepared for, or unaware of, their CoR requirements.
THE ISSUE WITH OVERLOADING
A huge area of focus in this space is mass loading, and this is where we often see smaller companies drawing the unwanted attention of regulatory bodies.
Many small companies are drastically overloading utes that are simply not fit for purpose.
Often we see these regulators targeting utes towing overloaded trailers, or which are themselves dangerously laden. These fines can run between $50,000 and a whopping $500,000, so complying with regulations could quickly become an essential business expense. In fact, 16 per cent of businesses surveyed have called compliance with CoR ‘an essential business expense’.
Ute owners already see the value in adding capacity and pulling power to their vehicles, but for many, upgrading to a bigger and more practical truck is the start of the next stage for their business.
AN APPRENTICE’S BEST FRIEND
With many trucks able to be driven on a standard passenger-car licence, they can even be operated by someone on probationary plates. This is often a revelation for ute owners who can now send apprentices, and anyone else mind you, off on the Bunnings run.
Many are seeing the value and benefit of trading up to a truck, though some would feel the loss of their ute when it comes to weekend activities.
Whatever direction you choose, remember that with vehicles, you always buy nice, or you buy twice.
A guide to CoR: http://content.isuzu.com.au/news-media/chain-of-responsibiltylets-get-back-to-the-basics/
Isuzu’s Future of Trucking report: https://www.isuzu.com.au/news/future-oftrucking-report/