Alex Wright, MD of Shoreham Vehicle Auctions, argues that an integral communications solution needs be to be the next piece of technology adopted as standard by van makers.
Van manufacturers who ignore operators’ growing appetite to communicate with drivers and their customers directly from the vehicle could suffer from reduced sales and residual values in the long term.
More and more van operators are looking to install communications equipment into the van cabin to help them run their business whilst on the move and provide the best possible service to their customers.
Wright believes that offering integrated satellite navigation or an in-cab phone charge point is now not enough to meet the demands of van operators, who need technology like in-built docking stations or adaptive cradles for a range of communication equipment that adhere to stringent manufacturer safety guidelines.
“iPhones for example are used for so much more than just making calls – they double up as a sat nav system, as GPS positioning devices, as well as enabling the driver to safely make calls and stay in touch with the office via email. When 4G hits these shores it is anticipated that smart phones will become an ever more integral part of a van driver’s day-to-day working kit.
“Offering a more flexible factory built solution to accommodate these communication devices will immediately translate into additional sales. Vans with these options tend to make more money when it comes to selling them used in three or four years time,” said Wright.
Vans fitted with sat nav systems have commanded a slight increase in used values, but nothing that meets the initial investment. Some manufacturers such as Nissan are now providing sat nav as standard, but to future proof their vehicles on all levels, van makers must look at operator requirements in a far broader fashion.
Currently many operators purchase the base vehicle and then fit their own communications kit, which often means extra cost and time before a van goes into operation, as well as new wiring and installations being added to the vehicle’s factory fitted finish.
At the end of the vehicle’s life the kit then has to be taken out at a further cost to the operator, whilst an integral dash mounted comms system would address all these issues.