In my home market in New Zealand there has traditionally been three main van models used for carrying glass – the Toyota Hiace, Mitsubishi L300, and Nissan Urvan. Over the 23+ years we've been supplying van frails these brands have released various models based on a similar design. There's also been a Ford Transit van that some clients have used, but the three Japanese brands have clearly dominated.
In the last few years there has been a huge increase in European van brands being released into the NZ market, plus those from other Asian countries such as the Hyundai. As with all good car company marketing plans each is touted to have its own unique benefits. One by one customers come to us having identified one of these van brands as being the right thing for their business, and one by one we work out a solution to fixing our van frails (racks) to each type of van. Although they're all different there are many similarities and by designing and running an aluminium roof extrusion specific for Euro vans, and in some cases by working with the vehicle manufacturer, we've been able to create solutions which we're happy with and can warranty.
So how many have been sold? Well actually very few. When it comes to putting pen to paper and signing up a glass vehicle the Toyota Hiace wins hands down in both the new and traded vehicle market. Many would argue that the Hiace has old technology, uses too much fuel, and the servicing intervals are too frequent and too costly. But few would argue the reliability, robustness, and trust which the glass and window industry have in this vehicle.
I expect that the same ratio of Hiaces to European vans will continue this year.