Technology: The shape of vans to come?


If you could design your own commercial vehicle of the future, what would you include?

As a fleet manager, an ultra-frugal engine would probably be first on the list.

Then maybe you’d want a vehicle that parked itself without scraping any inanimate objects nearby.

How about controls that over-ride driver errors to prevent accidents? Or a van body that can be modified to grow or shrink depending on load requirements, to help around city centre routes?

Thirty students from the Royal College of Art in London were recently given the chance to stretch their imaginations on this topic when they were invited by Citroën to design their ideal urban delivery vehicle of the future.

And while most of the ideas were more fantastical than practical, the exercise did help to indicate the way in which LCV design may evolve in the future.

Curiously, not one of the students seems to have considered where the engine would go in their space-age designs but Citroën design bosses were nevertheless pleased with the results.

Andy Cowell, senior sales manager at Citroën and organiser of the event, says: “We gave the students a fairly open brief as we didn’t want to stifle their imaginations.

"The idea was to pick up on trends, to look at new ideas and to encourage young talent.”

Winner Alex Ibett had the novel idea of creating upright cargo compartments, much like filing cabinets on wheels, which could be clipped together and added to the rear of a pod housing the driver.

Another student suggested a van with a gantry at the back into which different rear ends could be slid.

Among the more bizarre ideas was a van with a soft area at the rear into which parcels could safely be thrown.

Packages would be sticky so that the delivery man could then hurl them at the wall of the destination address.

Interesting facts uncovered by RCA students

  • Accidents cost the UK around £2.7 billion per year
  • 75% of the world’s population live in cities
  • Vans on average run three-quarters of their lives empty
  • 25% of all van drivers admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel
  • 30% of all deliveries fail on the first attempt, costing £110 million in wasted time and fuel in London alone
  • 70 delivery men are killed each year on UK roads

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