The commercial van marketplace’s landscape is changing rapidly with the introduction of a number of completely new van designs. Fleet upfitters are taking advantage of these new vehicles’ designs to provide a wider range of upfitting solutions that meet the diverse needs of today’s businesses.
VERSATILE VAN LINEUP
The new vans arriving in the marketplace fall into the full-size van or compact van group. The Ford Transit, the Ram ProMaster and the 2014-MY Mercedes-Benz/Freightliner Sprinter fall into the full-size van group.
Compact vans include the Ford Transit Connect (a new version of which is set to arrive in the market next year); the Ram C/V (cargo van), which is currently out; the Nissan NV200, which is also available; and the Chevrolet City Express, which is set to arrive in late 2014 as a 2015 model-year vehicle.
One of the main advantages of the newer full-size vans is versatility. The Transit, ProMaster and Sprinter all offer a range of roof heights, body lengths and configurations that can meet the needs of different types of businesses.
Jenn Voelker, Masterack’s marketing manager for Leggett & Platt Commercial Vehicle Products (Masterack’s parent company), says the company recognizes that its fleet customers are focusing on fuel-efficient vehicles, cost-savings and alternative fuels, and that these factors are behind the range of configurations the new full-size vans offer.
“OEMs are widening their breadth of products to include more commercial vehicle options,” Voelker says. “For example, the full-size Ford Transit cargo van will have seven different length and cube configurations, and the Ram ProMaster will have eight configurations. At Masterack, our focus is on solutions that provide customers with weight savings, modularity and cost savings.”
“The new taller vans, like the Nissan NV, Ford Transit and Ram ProMaster, will have much more storage capacity than many of the standard size vans on the market today. Our new shelving platforms will allow customers to maximize the cargo area of those vehicles in both length and height.”
When designing the new vehicles, the different automakers added specific features that make the upfitting process easier.
“Reinforced mounting points have been designed into some vehicles in the cargo area and on the roof for ladder racks,” says Voelker. “This certainly does assist upfitters with installation and helps retain the resale value of the vehicle.”
Masterack is planning to offer an all-new composite cargo management system called SmartSpace, Voelker says. The company worked with its largest fleet customers to design the system. During development, Masterack focused on reducing its weight and making it effectively work with the vehicle’s size, regardless of which specific vehicle or configuration a given business is using.
“The SmartSpace cargo management system is manufactured from lightweight materials including composites and aluminum,” Voelker says. “It can offer fleets a significant fuel savings over traditional steel systems. For example, based on a fleet with 1,500 vehicles and current fuel prices of $3.50/gal, a fleet can save over $200k in fuel per year simply by selecting the SmartSpace system.”
SmartSpace’s system is modular and allows customers to add and reconfigure drawers, lockable doors, dividers and even shelves, Voelker says.
“Additionally, because there are so many new vehicle configurations coming to market, Masterack has designed SmartSpace to be installed on an aluminum rail system that can easily be adapted to all vehicle lengths and heights,” she added.
Extracted from http://www.businessfleet.com