Plumbers, carpenters and electricians have hobbies like everyone else; hobbies that can turn into all-consuming passions. To accommodate them they may want a van that can be used as a day-to-day working tool during the week but can be transformed into something else at the weekend.
For Work and For Leisure
This is a need Vauxhall has recognised and is doing something about. Working with Sortimo it has come up with the Vivaro Race Van Concept.
A concept vehicle – as its name implies – it has been put together with the requirements of tradespeople who race motorcycles, either on- or off-road on Saturdays and Sundays but still need to earn their living Monday-to-Friday, in mind. The cargo area has been equipped by Sortimo accordingly.
Along the area’s offside there is a combination of removable lightweight mobile workstations and fixed Globelyst racking including a worktop with two drawers and removable S-BOXX boxes to hold parts. The WorkMo workstations feature drawers, a cupboard and trays for tools.
Folding shelves are provided on the opposite side and there is room for spare tyres, a ramp and all the other paraphernalia race team support vans contain. Remove this paraphernalia on a Sunday evening and replace it with all the tools and parts trades people are likely to need, and the Vivaro can return to rather more mundane work first thing Monday morning.
The Luton-assembled special Vivaro comes with a microwave along with a refrigerator and a fold-down bulkhead bench seat, not to mention a TV with a 32ins screen. All the racking features a Pro-Safe lashing system and the overall package includes a 9mm-thick SoboGrip+ crash-tested safety floor.
At the same time Vauxhall has revealed the Movano Race Van Concept. Vivaro’s bigger stable-mate is however completely dedicated to the needs of smaller motorcycle racing teams and may not be able to perform another role quite so easily.
Vauxhall says the vans have been created to highlight its involvement in the 2017 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship. Vauxhall is the event’s commercial vehicle partner.
“They’re the perfect way to celebrate our partnership,” says Vauxhall’s Head of Commercial Vehicle Brand, Steve Bryant.
Combining Vans and Cycles
Sortimo is also involved with another vehicle that is a world away from the glamour of superbikes.
Appreciating that a growing number of parcels and courier companies are wondering how they are going to handle last-mile deliveries, Sortimo has unveiled the £4,500 ProCargo CT1. It is an electric tricycle that can be carried in a van’s cargo area and deployed in city centres where the traffic is so bad that delivery is going to be faster by trike.
Packages are carried in a large box that extends backwards from the twin front wheels to the handlebars, saddle and single back wheel.
Range? Getting on for 70 miles between battery recharges, says Sortimo.
It is the sort of transport that could become essential if restrictions are imposed on the use of diesel vans in urban areas.
Electrics have been very much on the minds of executives at Tevo but their concern is less with battery-powered vehicles than with the ancillary electrical systems that are fitted to so many vans that have been racked out in order to power tools.
All too often they are cobbled together and can end up being overloaded; potentially with disastrous consequences. In response, Tevo has come up with its own ancillary electrical package plus a variety of own-brand electrical products, including inverters ranging from 400W to 3000W.
Fit racking, drawer units and all the related bits and pieces – a first-aid kit, a documents holder and so on – and there is a payload penalty to pay. In the case of the Vivaro referred to earlier the kit installed weighs 220kg, including the fridge.
Lightweight Storage Options
Not surprisingly, van storage system manufacturers are doing all they can to reduce the weight of their products, with Tevo and Bri-Stor among those making greater use of high-strength steel.
“It’s four times stronger than mild steel so we can use a thinner gauge, thereby saving weight,” says Bri-Stor Group Managing Director, Andrew Humphrey. Because less is required, the cost is roughly the same as that of its mild equivalent.
Bott makes use of aluminium in its Vario load area storage products while Van Guard has just launched a range of aluminium racking which it has had crash-tested. It has also started to offer the Gentili G2000 Harrier ladder loading system which allows ladders to be taken off a panel van’s roof rack and put back again without the user having to climb on top of the vehicle; a practice which is discouraged by the Health and Safety Executives.
Other suppliers are adding composite materials to the mix. They can be found, for example, in Sortimo’s fold-away FlexRack shelves.
Making the best use of the available room can be as important as cutting weight. Modulo from Bott for example is designed to make full use of space that would otherwise be unemployed – the tricky area above the rear wheel boxes for instance.
Over the years van manufacturers have included racking systems in their approved conversions programmes with varying degrees of success. Such systems usually have to be standardised, and trades people often want something that is tailored to their individual needs.
The latest light commercial producer to add racking to its conversions portfolio is Toyota under its newly-introduced Trade Plus programme. To its credit it has attempted to make its offer as flexible as possible, with two different kits sourced from Bri-Stor for the latest Proace along with a variety of options.
Kit 1 features three 1,040mm shelves, a tool panel with three tilt boxes for small items plus a metal basket. Options include an additional nearside tool panel with further storage bins, tilt boxes and a basket.
Kit 2 equips the Proace with offside racking made up of a three-shelf system with greater storage space, eight bins, three drawers which can be accessed from the van’s offside side door, and a tool panel with three tilt boxes and a basket. It also makes use of the vehicle’s bulkhead cargo hatch which enables extra-long items to be slid under the front passenger seats, and the system allows 8ft by 4ft sheets to be secured inside the vehicle.
Kit 1 retails at £995 which Kit 2 sells for £1,495. Both prices exclude VAT, and plywood flooring and a lining kit are included in each case.
Kit out your Pickup
Pickups have seen a surge in popularity recently, with Fiat, Mercedes and Isuzu all bringing their versions to the market recently or in the future. Like vans, pickups can be used for both work and leisure, and sometimes benefit from addition kit.
Gearmate design and manufacture high-quality storage and access solutions for all pickup trucks. The product range has been developed to maximise vehicle load space, improve productivity and eliminate the frustrations of poor load space utilisation.
“Our products are aimed at fleet operators, individual professionals and leisure seekers,” says Jennifer Bonson, Project Manager. “The Gearmate Design team has successfully met demands to create a range of reliable and high quality products.
“At the forefront of our design philosophy is the desire to develop hard wearing, stylish accessories that will ensure you and your vehicle are loaded for life.
“All products are designed to offer the best possible solution for your needs. The utilised space can be increased further by tailoring your choice of system from a range of Gearmate Accessories.
“All systems are interchangeable between vehicles and can be securely fixed in place with our unique bracket systems that connect to your manufacturers tie-down points, meaning there is no need to drill into the bed.
“Many customers require additional bespoke products for their needs. Our design team is on hand to ensure that you are provided with the exact design and functionality your system demands.”
Anybody transporting power tools and other valuable items should ensure they are kept in a lockable vault somewhere on the vehicle. Such an arrangement is essential if the business concerned is running an open-backed pickup.
Armorgard offers a range of secure boxes under the TuffBank banner. Features include external and internal anti-jemmy systems designed to defy all efforts to prise them open, and five-lever deadlocks.
The more difficult forced entry is likely to be, the more likely it is that a thief will go elsewhere.
“Thieves want their spoils quick and easy,” remarks an Armorgard spokesman. “With TuffBank, they face a heavy-duty deterrent.”