South Africa has traditionally been ‘bakkie crazy’ – and many of us grew up with some or the other ‘bakkie’ in the driveway. Many businesses requiring a versatile workhorse or delivery vehicle, would own a sub-one tonner ‘bakkie’ or two as part of their fleet. It’s no wonder that OPEL’s famous CORSA bakkie, later to be re-badged as the Chevrolet Utility, was for many years the best selling bakkie in its class – selling well over 1000 units per month!
Go onto the roads in Europe however, and you will be hard-pressed to see a ‘bakkie’ on the roads. In Europe, every respectable business has a fleet of ‘COMBO’s or VANS.
So, what’s the attraction of VANS vs BAKKIES?
Let’s be honest – in South Africa you can no longer dare to leave anything simply ‘in the back of the bakkie’ as you could in years gone by. So most commercial owners opt to immediately fit a canopy to their ‘bakkie’. Unfortunately the loading bay and canopies don’t form part of the alarm system of the ‘bakkie’ (if fitted at all), and break-in thefts are common place.
The canopy (usually made of fibre glass) is also an extra expense and is secured by only a few clips - the first element to rip apart in the event of an accident. Hinges and gas shocks often give problems or rip out, the load bay is not part of the air-conditioned space, often has to be sprayed (for the more discerning bakkie owner if the bakkie is not white), offers little headroom and has little to no second-hand value.
In contrast, Cargo vans are designed as versatile load-carriers, offer much more space as a result of lower load beds, keep your valuable cargo and equipment out of sight and enclosed in an alarmed and secure shell that is - an integral part of the vehicle’s body. The sides and back are also blocked out with metal sheeting, keeping your contents safe from the preying eyes of criminals.
The cab of OPEL’s new COMBO is a comfortable place to spend time, and there's an abundance of great safety kit available to make working life easier. The 1.6 turbo diesel engine delivers enough pulling power to not only keep pace with traffic, but also for overtaking maneuvers and pulling a substantial additional load, such as a bike-trailer, boat or additional cargo. The car-derived running gear means the OPEL COMBO feels good to drive, too. Standard safety kit includes a driver's airbag, a full-height steel bulkhead to separate the cargo and passenger areas, Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, Hill Start Assist and Emergency Brake Assist.
The OPEL COMBO has a massive 3.3 cubic metres of load space, which is not only substantially more than a light commercial bakkie with canopy, but also equates to substantially more real estate for branding and advertising on the exterior of the COMBO (versus your conventional bakkie). With most companies or fleets having vehicles on the road throughout the day, vehicle branding of a single COMBO can be seen by upwards of 70 000 pairs of eyes per day in busier metros, and let’s face it, a tailor-made business panel van (especially if it was just awarded “International Van of the Year) simply looks a lot more professional or ‘business like’ than a bakkie!
The OPEL COMBO further creates a mobile and weather proof working space for drivers or operators. The van’s lower load floor height can be a blessing for technicians who are accustomed to pulling tools, equipment, and cargo out of a pick-up bed. Think of the number of cycles these drivers go through - having to load and unload cargo between twenty and sixty times a day!
The OPEL COMBO’s squarer body shape means there's ample space inside, while a low floor makes access easy. The Combo also allows for up to 600kg of cargo in the back.