30 Jan 19

Small vans replace trucks in city centres

One segment which has a bird’s eye view of developing trends in the LCV market is the interior fit-out segment. Thomas Johansson, Vice President, Modul-System, shares his appraisal of the market, from an overall as well as a fit-out perspective.

Starting with the market in general, Thomas Johansson says that electrification of LCVs is really the big trend at the moment, as is demonstrated at shows such as the IAA in Hanover. He goes as far as to say that it is likely that electric vans will begin to take over the market. This will happen more slowly than for the car market, but the van market, which is traditionally some years behind, will inevitably follow the same trend. This will start with organisations and companies which have a green philosophy, and will spread more widely, especially as vans with longer driving ranges begin to appear. Prices will come down too, a clear signal to would-be buyers.

Last mile

The market for vans at the moment, as Modul-System observes it, is fairly evenly split between the three sizes small, mid-sized and large (Partner, Trafic, Crafter to use these models as examples). This differs from market to market, but in general this is the situation. The market is also being impacted by parcel services, which is booming. E-commerce is driving the parcels service, because people need delivery. Trucks are not so welcome in the cities, which is to the benefit of the ‘larger’ small vans such as Crafter, Daily… These are replacing the heavy trucks for urban deliveries. The other advantage of these vans is that they don’t require a truck driving licence.

Fit-out and EVs

For a fit-out company, the electrification of vans changes things because there are extra requirements. For instance, materials have to be lighter because the weight of the vehicle has an impact on the driving range. The most important change for a company such as Modul-System, however, is not being able to drill into the vehicle body any more. There will most probably be a battery pack under the vehicle floor so you can’t fix any of the interior fittings through the vehicle body.

Fixtures are therefore added with the aid of an aluminium sandwich floor which has integrated aluminium rails on it. The floor is then glued to the body at the point of the rails. The equipment is fixed to the floor rail that has been added. In the future it is likely to be forbidden to drill into the side of the vehicle, too. So in the case of Modul-System, a rail is glued to the side of the van as well, and the fixtures are positioned on this. If the chassis has existing holes, these can be used, but there are not enough, so the room for manoeuvre of fit-out specialists is limited.

High voltage

The other major issue which has to be taken into account is the high voltage of the power pack in an electric vehicle. The operators have to know exactly what they’re doing when working on electric vans. The vehicles themselves are also heavier than their fuel driven counterparts, and this is another factor which reduces the load capacity. Again, light weight fittings become all the more important.

Finally, fit-out is not considered to be a drawback to remarketing, quite the opposite: having good equipment added to the vehicle can increase the resale value. There is also the fact that sometimes, when the racking etc. is removable, customers take it from one vehicle to the next. 

Picture: Thomas Johansson, Vice President, Modul-System, sees the LCV market fom an overall perspective.

Authored by: Tim Harrup