2017121004

The rise of White Van Woman

According to car dealer research, 32% of UK truck owners are women. 40% of truck drivers use trucks for activities other than business. Has the humble van finally diversified?

2017121001

Why are the upscale cars, the off-road cars, the off-road cars, or whatever you want to call them, that’s so popular now.

Yes, some of the reasons are sitting at the height, seeing far and far (or entering your neighbor’s garden…). But as a mother of two boys (four, including a mixed family), I know that more of the related reasons are space. Space is now the most important part of “practicality”. Many children have space, space for long legs, bicycles and rugby kits, and surfboard and canoeing. Take more than one boy to a beaver or a party or overnight space. Space is as important to a busy family as time.

Now, large SUV (at least five seats, a huge boots, but usually third rows of seats) will become more and more expensive luxury (think of BMW X5, Land Rover, Audi Q7, Ford Edge) busy family (the most important thing is the busy mother) is a new choice: humble van.

2017121002

Good bye white fan, white model woman hello. According to the study of Auto Trader, 32% of the UK’s van owners are women. 40% of the van drivers use the van to do activities outside the business: lifestyle activities, such as shopping, bicycle repair, and family collection of surfboards and dogs to the beach.

I can fully believe that, believe me, female characters will only grow. This week I was driving the Citroen SpaceTourer, recently there is a Transit Custom Double Cab. The van is the perfect answer to all of the above problems.

My Citroen is the passenger version of the van, with eight seats behind the driver: two rows of three seats. Of course, the space is brilliant, each seat slid forward and folded down to form a flat loading space.

But the other attributes of the van may be more attractive. The sliding back door is a real winner for children who have children: how much time do you have to stay in the narrow space, before they shout, the children have opened the door and go directly to the sides of the car beside you. Don’t worry about the sliding door. As I found out when I traveled with my child to Isle Of Wight on California Volkswagen ferry just half a month ago, they skidded on the sliding deck without any problems.

2017121003

Second, vans aren’t trimmed with high-quality leathers, soft, light plastics and sumptuous footwell carpets. No, they come with hard-wearing dark fabric seats and wipe-clean plastic surfaces. Ideal for muddy/sandy/wet weekend activities.

Third, the ergonomics of the driving position are brilliant in a van, unsurprisingly, given the long distances commercial drivers do. But that’s equally important for private motorists. The slightly upturned, large steering wheel, the brilliantly old-fashioned manual handbrake to the left, and the gearstick (whether auto or manual) positioned high up on the centre console, are all perfectly set for the driver, so there’s no uncomfortable reaching or straining to turn the wheel full lock or reach reverse gear.

Also, given that vans rarely come with 5.0-litre V8 sports engines, you can bet you’ll be getting better fuel economy from a van than a plush SUV. Our Citroen had a 1.6-litre diesel in it, returning about 55mpg. As long as you’re not expecting to accelerate quickly any time soon, you’ve got to love it.

2017121004

Finally, for unconfident drivers, while vans feel longer than cars, they always have a very short bonnet, so you can find your way into tighter spaces than you imagined, and you will quickly become used to the proportions, due to the excellent visibility all round. They tend to be narrower than you think, too. In fact, my Citroen SpaceTourer seems to have a similar length to my Land Rover Discovery, but feels ten times easier to manoeuvre.

Plus, the very act of driving a van makes women feel empowered, and capable of anything.

My kids have also loved the deep door pockets, cup holders in the third row, flip-down plastic trays in the back of the front seats, and the electric button to control their sliding doors. They’re easily pleased, bless them.