Aixam Mega Van Review
|Facts At A Glance|
VAN:Aixam Mega van
ENGINE: 479cc diesel or 48v electric
TOTALUNLADEN WEIGHT: 440-695kg
WILLIT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: length/width/heightmm2920/1480/1825mm
AixamMega Van Review- SOSMALL, IT’S MEGA
It’sCertainly The Smallest And Quite Possibly The Strangest Van On The UKMarket.
At first glance, Aixam-MegaVehicles would appear to have their workcut out in coaxing UK businesses into the driver’s seat of theirdiminutive Mega Van. If, however, you look at the facts instead ofstaring dumbfounded at the Legoland styling, the vehicle might not besuch a peculiar proposition after all. Whatever you think of the MegaVan, it’s certainly out of the ordinary.
On the continent it’s not unusual to sight a burly builder scootingalong the road, his extensive frame crammed behind the windscreen of atiny three-wheeled van or pick-up. The Mega Van is the spiritualsuccessor to this kind of vehicle - ultra-compact in size, simple yetstrong in construction and capable of making you look like a characterfrom Wacky Races. You see, where the French and Italians recognise acheap functional commercial vehicle when they clap eyes on one, weBrits tend to see only a mode of transport that could leave us wideopen to a sustained bout of ruthless Mickey-taking at the hands of ourcolleagues. Vehicles in the mould of the three-wheeled, scooter-enginedPiaggio Ape Poker would appear to underpin the whole Italian ruraleconomy, such is their popularity but the same models have beenavailable in the UK for years. Have you ever seen one?
In this country, thanks to some misplaced sense of self-esteem, thetype of small business customer at whom the Mega Van is targeted willjust about allow themselves to be seen at the wheel of a Micro-van likeDaihatsu’s Extol or Suzuki’s Carry. Smaller and more visuallystrikingly, the Mega Van is an altogether more leftfield propositionand while it may well be fitter for purpose than mainstreamcompetitors, some buyers are still likely to think twice. Others, onthe other hand, will absolutely love it..
Looking at the Aixam Mega Van, you can see where the manufacturer’shope that it can become the commercial vehicle equivalent of the MCCSmart car is derived from. The cute face, two-tone design and primarycolour paint schemes bear more than a passing resemblance to the Smart– a vehicle that has become a common sight in towns and citiesthroughout the land despite initial scepticism from a conservativepublic. The Mega Van’s dimensions aren’t far in excess of DaimlerChrysler’s fashionable citycar either. At just over 2.92m in length andonly 1.5m wide, the Mega is a truly tiny van, nearly a meter shy of thediminutive 3.8m Daihatsu Extol.Of course, the Mega’s size is its main strength. Down tight alleyways,through gaps in the traffic, the vehicle comes into its own. Themanufacturers even point out that it’s light enough (from just 400kg inconventional engine form) to be driven on delicate surfaces. Landscapegardeners could risk running it across their client’s lawn, councilsmight use it on paved pedestrian areas, factory bosses could use itforklift-style to move goods around inside a warehouse. The Mega can beused as a normal van but its size and the Range of power options openup a variety of alternative functions.
"Of course, the Mega’s size is its main strength."
The Mega Van is available in four different bodystyles with van,pick-up, dropside and chassis cab options each offered. Power choice issimilarly wide-ranging for such a small vehicle and which engine youchoose depends very much on the type of usage you have in mind for yourMega Van. Those valuing Range and fuel economy above all else willgravitate towards the 479cc diesel option. Mega Vans with this enginehave been optimistically titled 500 for model designation purposes. Itmanages to post figures on the economical side of 70mpg, which will dowonders for any company’s fuel bills. With the 24L fuel tank, thatmeans a Range of around 370 miles, so the 500 does have the stamina forlengthier trips. You can certainly go a long way in a Mega Van.Unfortunately, you won’t be doing so very quickly. The 500 can onlyhaul its acrylic and aluminium frame up to a maximum velocity of 50mphso on motorway journeys you may have to put it in the boot of aconventional car. Still, when did you last average even 30mph on ajourney through a city centre?
Moreinteresting might be the option of electric power. The Mega Van canemploy a 48-volt General Electric electric motor to reach speeds ofbetween 30 and 40mph. The Range on these models is limited - between 60and 100km depending on how many batteries you opt for - so they’reprobably best employed as get-around vehicles for large industrialcomplexes, campsites or, perhaps, as golf carts. Depending on yourchoice of diesel or electric power, payloads Range between a modest275kg and a respectable 460kg but a general lack of horsepower andtorque across the engine line-up means that performance will drop-offmarkedly if a full load is hoisted onto the back. The Mega Van has nogearbox and uses a centrifugal clutch to pedal itself along so it’svery easy to drive. So easy in fact, that it’s classed as a Quadracycleand can be driven on a B1 motorcycle licence.
Despiteits size, the Mega Van looks surprisingly chunky and hardwearing. Theacrylic plastic bodywork is reassuringly resistant to the kind of minordents and scratches that vans tend to accumulate during the course oftheir working lives. Manufacturers Aixam-Mega tell us that the materialis weather resistant and will not damage even in the harshest, dampestenvironments. Rust certainly wont be an issue as the chassis is ofall-aluminium, weld-free construction. It’s also designed to beexceptionally rigid for improved safety. The lively exterior iscontrasted by a less extrovert theme on the inside but everything seemsrobust enough to stay the course. Equipment includes such luxuries as2-speed wipers, an ashtray and a 3-speed heater but don’t expect toomuch. Any vehicle that needs to give its hazard lights a mention to padout its standard equipment list is not going to excessively mollycoddleits drivers.
TheMega Van is undoubtedly an eccentric choice but it also has a Range ofunique capabilities that may be exactly what some businesses arelooking for. You have to suspect that it will sell rather better on thecontinent, where miniscule commercial vehicles are already commonplace,than it will in the UK where people take themselves and their choice oftransport that bit more seriously. But companies here that want to makean impact and draw attention to themselves on the streets couldcertainly achieve those ends by investing in a fleet of Mega Vans.