Raising the roof with wing-van trucks

Story and images by Gelzon de la Cruz

Market leader Isuzu is highlighting, in fact pushing for, the widespread use of modern wing-van truck bodies. At the Isuzu Truck Fest last April and now again at the ongoing Transport and Logistics, Philippines regional tradeshow, an Isuzu FVM chassis mated to a Nippon-Freuhauf wing-van body (the complete package being badged as their G-Cargo truck) was made center-stage by being made up as a stage.

The Isuzu G-Cargo wing-van medium-duty truck at the transport and logistics tradeshow

The trend is apparent given how other major brands like Hino and Tata have also put the spotlight on their wing-van offerings at the current tradeshow that will be at the SMX convention center until tomorrow, August 19. Not a new concept, and already here in droves, it’s still the first time that wing-vans are being pushed, in concert, as brand new truck configurations.

The Isuzu G-Cargo wing-van truck, launched and launched from at the Isuzu Truck Fest last April

Isuzu’s manufacturing partner for wing-van trucks is Centro Manufacturing, the licensed assembler of Nippon-Freuhauf, the wing-van bodies pioneer from Japan. At the Isuzu Truck fest last April, Centro senior sales manager Vic del Rosario cited government stats showing that there are already 300,000 wing-van bodies in the country that are mounted on aging surplus-sourced trucks. Of this number, 30 percent or around 90,000 are on truck chassis slated for retirement under the government’s initiative for 15 year age limits on the nation’s hauling fleets--compelling numbers which explain the truck brands’ thrust.

At the transport tradeshow, the wing-van body from the country’s second biggest truckmaker, this one on a Hino 500-series medium-duty chassis

Wing-vans spell good business across sectors. Almost certainly, those 300,000 wing-van trucks that got here were so chosen based on cost, the rear bodies being secondary to the fact that there were these units, worn-down by first world standards but still serviceable by ours, that could be had at bargain prices. But in those cases where the wing roofs still had working hydraulics, and were in fact operated, the transport operator landed windfall savings on on-loading and off-loading overheads.

At the transport tradeshow, their LPT1623 truck chassis with rear body dubbed a ‘gull-wing’ by Tata of India, a newcomer here but a major truckmaker, globally

Packed properly, a wing-van can be loaded up and unloaded from either of its long sides, and these in addition to the conventional but narrower rear gate. In fact, Isuzu marketing head Joseph Bautista points out that some wing-van users have avoided on/off-loading altogether. Bautista says that wing-vans are being used as rolling showrooms by appliance retailers, the merchandise not having to be unloaded on road-trips, not until they’ve closed a sale.