A van should have similar handling characteristics to those of the passenger car, as little dead weight as possible, at least optionally well fitted out and have a large loading capacity. This
makes possible both the recreational and commercial use. An attractive point is also the multitude of variations that are available in this class. Nowadays, one can even buy the same vehicle
from the same manufacturer with either front-wheel or rear-wheel drive.
How it works
Previously the larger van was a truck derivation, today it is often merely a step-up from the passenger car segment. This is indicated partly by the use of front-wheel drive and the engines of
the mid-range passenger car. Progress in the chassis area (recently with ESP) and lower demands
on the pay load make this possible. Thus due to the high body-work with an excellent driving position and with a clear overview, which is further enhanced by the large glass surfaces, the van
was developed. In front, aerodynamically formed, on the sides and behind, economically, they are equipped with at least one big sliding door on the kerbside. This and the upright seating
position make at least three rows of seating possible. Due to the commercial nature, the suspension comfort in the last row leaves something to be desired.
In addition, the simple removal of the seats raises the versatility. With this drive-line and chassis type, two body variations, differing in length, but with the same low floor can be implemented
for a relatively reasonable price. The shorter model is well suited as a passenger car substitute. Should a modern Diesel engine be fitted, the consumption also remains moderate. Some vans
can even be parked in a normal sized garage.
Interior equipment comparable to that offered in the passenger car, is nearly always available. The noise level caused by the roomy interior and the crosswind sensitivity are a disadvantage.
Four-wheel-drive however, needlessly raises the price of this functional vehicle. The wiser alterative is the classical van with rear-wheel drive.
Due to the high accident rate of this vehicle class, it has lately drawn a great deal of attention to itself. In the commercial area, very often temporary workers are used. They compensate for
their lack of experience with these vehicles and the appointment pressure by driving at high speeds and tail-gating on the highway. Unfortunately, they overlook the physical law of mass
inertia. Transporters require, depending on load, double to triple the braking distance of a passenger car, their centre of gravity can be altered by different loading up to around 50%
(passenger car 5%).
Figure 2 above shows the under-carriage typical of a somewhat larger rear-wheel-drive vehicle. Here the ladder-frame chassis can be seen which leaves enough space for the exhaust
system, the differential shaft with central bearing and the tank. At the rear, the leaf-spring rigid axle with the long dampers which protrude down slightly to allow a wide, level loading floor can
also be seen. 09/08