new Kit ALU-CAB’S NEW BAKKIE-BIN
Cape Town-based firm Alu-Cab is renowned for its top-class aluminium-based products – from canopies and camper bodies to trailers. Never one to rest on his laurels, Alu-Cab bossman Jeremy Bergh is constantly developing and testing new products. Like his latest gadget – the aluminium bakkie-bak, called the Alu-Bin
Photography: GG van Rooyen
Text: Danie Botha
Ask Alu-Cab’s Jeremy Bergh where the idea for his new Alu-Bin comes from, and there’s a sparkle in his eye when he answers: “It’s just me being a dreamer again.”
Ironically, that’s exactly how the Alu-Cab business started. Jeremy originally built an aluminium canopy for a bakkie. People liked it. Jeremy built some more. More people liked them. Jeremy built a factory. And so on. Today there are four Alu-Cab shops nationwide, and also an extensive distribution network.
“I remember the day I officially started the Alu-Cab business. I chatted to my uncle, who had designed a number of things in his life, about the new Alu-Cab I’d developed, and asked if he thought I should patent the design. He answered: ‘My boy, if more people copy your product, then more people become aware of your product. It will help sales. Those who copy will always know they copied it and will always feel like they are in second place.’ So I followed this advice,” says Bergh.
Even when a major 4×4 retailer, with a lot of cash and many more outlets, started copying the design and the Alu-Cab business came under pressure, Bergh and his Cape Town-based factory battled on, regardless.
“In this game it’s one of my prime responsibilities to be ahead of the competition when it comes to next-generation products,” Jeremy says. “And that’s one of the reasons why I always look for something different – like the Alu-Bin, for instance.”
Jeremy says he’s always wanted to design and build a load bin. Even though the standard bakkie bins are probably better looking as they are designed to a particular bakkie’s styling, they are not all that practical from a packing or working perspective. They are also heavier.
“Alu-Cab is all about being practical and using available space to the maximum. We have found that we can get all the same items into our little cupboards on the load bin as we do in our canopies. This is due to the drop boxes placed on either side,” says Jeremy.
“This is the start of many options to come. The first option we are looking at is fitting a canopy on top of the new bin. So we will now have even more packing space than before. Another alternative is fitting a roof-top tent. We are even considering fitting a drive-off camper.
“Or one can mount bikes onto the top of this bin or on either side while still having the space under the lid for loading. This is just a prototype – the options are endless.”
But who will use an Alu-Bin?
“We see great possibilities in commerce. It would be great if we could order bakkies without load bins fitted. There would then be a saving in the initial purchase, and we could add or build what the customer wants.
“There are 101 ideas and options for people to look at. The other great point is that you can build a rig which can, with some small adjustments, be transferred from one bakkie to the next,” says Jeremy.
In a nutshell (or an Alu-Bin, if you like)
* Alu-Cab’s aluminium products are unique in that the frames are powder-coated and the plates are anodised to prevent oxidation. These processes also make the product more resilient to scratching and weathering
* The Alu-Bin features two cupboards on the sides (can be supplied kitted out with gear or empty)
* Two drop hatches on either side of the Alu-Bin each provide 25 litres of storage space
* There is an option of fitting a canopy, a light bar, or nothing but load bars
* The load bin is supplied with a lockable lid
* The prototype unit (as featured) is fitted with an 80-litre water tank
* This unit is fitted with an LAS PRO Series rear bumper with recovery points, jacking points, receiver point for a towbar, trailer plug slot and can carry two spare wheels if necessary
* LED rear work (tail) lights are highly visible in the day and night
* Alu-Bin cost is about R35 000, but this will vary according to client specifications.
From the other side
The strangely-named Nonstandard.at company is based in Austria and specialises in designs of all kinds. So what would happen if you asked them to design a caravan? Well, the Mehrzeller caravan – that’s what!
Caravans are cool again!
So says the official press release for the unique and rather peculiar Mehrzeller caravan, hailing from the designer’s pens at the firm, Nonstandard.at.
“Mobility and living on the move are very important themes of our fast-moving age,” the company says. “People want to be mobile but at the same time, have a strong desire for a lasting home and their own personal four walls.
“In the camper market there is strong demand for new design and personalised, tailor-made solutions. Individual tourists want a caravan that is made just for them.
“The solution to the problem is offered by the Mehrzeller – the multi-cellular caravan.”
It works like this: The company has what it calls a Configurator, with which customers can set up a unique design, including their own interior lay-out. This configuration is generated by a computer using the customer’s inputs, and then the design is subjected to certain parameters. The professionals put together the final touches, and then the caravan is produced.
The caravans are produced using the principles of “mass customisation”, the company says. This allows the individual wishes of the customer to be accommodated while the caravan is still produced by “series methods”. And so the Mehrzeller introduces a new generation of mobile living.
Okay, so you won’t be surprised to hear that the Mehrzeller has only been sold in limited numbers, and that its asking price could rival that of a block of holiday flats.
However, there certainly are some similarities between the designers of this caravan and the famous character, Howard Roark – the main protagonist in Ayn Rand’s best-selling novel, The Fountainhead.
Just like architect Roark, who refuses to follow the tried and tested ways and always pushes the boundaries of existing design philosophies, the Mehrzeller completely breaks from the norm, and offers something refreshingly different.
This is in stark contrast to the other Fountainhead protagonist, architect Peter Keating, who prefers to swim with the current and watch his cash coffers grow.
In the case of the Mehrzeller, we are – weirdly enough – in the Howard Roark corner. It took some guts and vision to design a thing like this!
More information: www.mehrzeller.com