Rhino Products, Europe’s largest manufacturer of commercial vehicle accessories, examines how the new design language of modern vans can be supported by well-designed accessories.
It’s no secret that the entire automotive industry is moving to electrified powertrains. Maximising fuel economy and battery range to meet new efficiency standards is more important than ever before. Choosing the right van accessory can help to preserve these efficiency advantages for van users and fleets while ensuring that they also are equipped to handle any job.
Reducing wind resistance is key to maximising vehicle efficiency. Even if a van is designed to be streamlined, bulky accessories can increase drag, lowering fuel economy and range. Manufacturers of aftermarket accessories can combat this by ensuring that designs offer improved aerodynamics.
For example, roof bars can be formed in a highly aerodynamically efficient teardrop shape, the Kamm-tail, which is synonymous with Formula 1 racing cars. This design ensures that the bars cut through the air efficiently, reducing drag and air turbulence. This is a feature incorporated into the design of Rhino’s KammBar, one of Europe’s most popular roof bars.
Roof racks can also be streamlined to enhance aerodynamic efficiency. The use of nose cones at the front of the rack can greatly reduce wind resistance, helping to preserve vehicle efficiency. This delivers a sleek and functional design as found in Rhino’s AluminiumRack.
An alternative way to improve vehicle efficiency is to reduce weight. A heavier vehicle requires more power to move, so lightweight designs can contribute to improved range and fuel economy. Manufacturers must optimise designs to add lightness while preserving strength.
A proven approach is to choose lightweight materials that deliver similar strength in application. Using aluminium instead of steel for ladders installed on the rear of vans, for example, can deliver sizable weight savings. Rhino recently achieved this with its AluminiumLadder, reducing its overall weight by up to 50% (excluding the fitting kit) compared to the previous steel design.
Beyond the powertrain, vans are also beginning to follow passenger cars in terms of looks. Boxy designs have been relegated to the past, with sharp lines and smooth shapes becoming the norm. To preserve this aesthetic, manufacturers of aftermarket accessories are focusing on developing products that combine durability and functionality with good looks. This ensures that any van with such an accessory looks new and modern.
Lengthy materials such as pipe and plastic conduit can be unsightly when secured to the top of a van. However, by enclosing these materials within a long roof mounted container, van users and fleets can transport these items without compromising the professional appearance of modern commercial vehicles. Rhino’s PipeTube Pro is a good example, featuring a full-length PVC lining, an upgraded integral locking system and an added rubber seal.
Streamlined roof racks such as the AluminiumRack can also offer improved aesthetics. By selecting a sleek roof rack design, the modern design of a van can be nicely complemented.
As commercial vehicle manufacturers continually improve van designs, manufacturers of aftermarket accessories such as Rhino Products keep pace by optimising products – improving aerodynamics, reducing weight, enhancing aesthetics and adding strength. At Rhino, a dedicated team of design engineers utilises the latest modelling software and rigorous physical testing to deliver van accessories that keep pace with the rapid design developments of the latest van models.