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Lightweight Minibuses: Fact or Fiction


Minibus World are Manufacturers of the CanDrive range of Lightweight Minibuses and below we help you to make sense of the Facts, Fiction, Type Approval & Scaremongering.


What is a Lightweight Minibus?

Have you come across the concept of a Lightweight Minibus? Not sure if its legal, safe or indeed the right vehicle for you?

Minibus World are manufacturers of a range of minibuses that can be driven on a car licence, which fall under the general category of a Lightweight Minibus.

We come across some quite vociferous and seemingly convincing scaremongery about Lightweight Minibuses and wanted set the record straight on some of the more fictitious claims.



"Lightweight Minibuses are Not Safe" - FICTION

Our CanDrive range of minibuses are IVA tested by DVSA (formerly VOSA) where applicable, provided with an IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval) Certificate and designed and / or adapted to enable you to drive it on a car licence.*

Our seat belt anchorage system has been pull tested in-vehicle with the equivalent of 1.5 tonnes of weight per seat and its effectiveness witnessed and signed off by VCA (Vehicle Certification Agency). This is the Executive Agency of the UK Department for Transport that approves all road-going vehicles for use in the UK, including your own car and the Ford Transit factory-built minibus.

Items such as dimensions and signage are IVA compliant and conversions on new vehicles can, where applicable, be first registered as a minibus after inspection by DVSA (formerly VOSA). Indeed, you could even argue that our Individually Approved buses are safer than Small or European Series Approved vehicles where only the prototype is tested by VCA and the rest of the minibuses built in the same series are not individually inspected.

We build minibuses to a variety of Type Approval regulations including but not limited to COIF (Certificate of Initial Fitness) and IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval). See our IVA Certificate here and the pull-testing for our seat belt anchorage approvals here.



"Lightweight Minibuses Circumvent the Law" - FICTION

The D1 entitlement (the driving licence category for a minibus over 9 seats or 3500kgs in Maximum Authorised Mass) was automatically issued to anyone passing their driving test up to January 1st 1997. From that point the D1 minibus entitlement was no longer automatic. However, within 2 years of losing this entitlement UK Parliament had proposed, debated, drafted, agreed and implemented legislation to allow certain volunteer drivers of minibuses who only hold a category B car licence to drive out of category.

Driving a Lightweight Minibus out of category does not circumvent the law, neither is it a loophole as some scaremongers suggest. It simply follows the letter and spirit of the law that Parliament implemented for this very reason! See the 1999 Driving Licence (Exemption) Regulations here and the DFT advice on licensing of incidental drivers here.



"Lightweight Minibuses have been Secretly Designed by Former NASA Engineers to Save Weight" - Fiction

Lightweight minibuses aren't really a mystical formula nor an ingenious unique design, just great quality manufacturing. In fact the term lightweight is a bit of a misnomer.

Some lightweight products are indeed light, weighing around 2300kgs with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 3.5 tonnes, but the majority of "lightweight" products have had some form of adaption and therefore have a GVW of up to 4.25 tonnes. You could in fact drive one of our Peugeot Boxer CanDrive Minibuses weighing 2900kgs (and a GVW of 4250kgs) on a car licence if the relevant conditions are met.

The term Lightweight (or Lite) is just a marketing gimmick by some to give it a mystical aura. We would prefer to apply a bit of common sense and get to understand your needs to enable us to give you the best advice on which product suits you. We build as the name suggests a Lightweight product but this is mainly relevant for primary schools. The rest are not particularly light but you CanDrive them on a car licence. Not clever, just practical.



"MIDAS Training is Required" - FACT

Whilst MIDAS is not a legal requirement and is purely voluntary Minibus World recommends it as trained drivers are safer drivers. It is estimated to cost £1,000 per person to achieve a D1. MIDAS can cost as little as £100 per person and can be achieved in one day on your site.



"A Ford Transit Minibus is Always Cheaper" - FICTION

Apart from being heavier in weight and on fuel, not all of your staff will be able to drive a Ford Transit as they are over the weight limit and out of category for most people. In this case D1 training would be required which is expensive when taking in to account training for three or four staff members for the test every year. This includes the test fees, taking staff out of work for training and undertaking training for new staff as D1 trained staff leave.

Therefore a Lightweight Minibus can be cheaper to run, ready to drive immediately without D1 training and gives you more flexibility by enabling most staff to be able to drive it.



"A Lightweight Minibus has Less Carrying Capacity" - FICTION

The Ford Transit 17 Seat Minibus has a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of 4600kgs, and weighs around 3011kgs. This leaves a total carrying capacity of 1589kgs (4600 - 3011 = 1589) or 93kgs per person including baggage. Our Peugeot Boxer CanDrive Maxi 17 Seat Minibus, has a GVW of 4250kgs and weighs around 2600kgs therefore giving you 97kgs per person including baggage.

Prefer a heavier D1 Minibus? No problem, we supply those too!



Minibus World's "Magical" Formula

Just kidding but we do offer the following

  • Fact - Minibus experts
  • Fact - Understand our customers' needs
  • Fact - Superb quality, custom-built minibuses to enhance your own brand identity
  • Fact - Proactive after sales service
  • Fact - Excellent lead times
  • Fact - Give best advice
  • Fact - Price promise. We won't be beaten on a like-for-like quote

If you have any queries or concerns regarding vehicle safety, Type Approval or IVA / NSSTA or indeed any aspect of owning, running, financing or leasing a minibus please do not hesitate to get in touch.

View our CanDrive range of lightweight minibuses.



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