Over the years, the double floor has become a real must-have for high-end vehicles: any vehicle belonging to this small premium market segment is equipped with it. Here’s our analysis of the European market.
Words Michel Vuillermoz
In Europe the double floor is a must-have for top-of-the-range vehicles. The more luxury the motorhome, the more technologically advanced the double floor: with wood-free structures, replaced by polyurethane supporting panels, its heights can reach and even exceed 40 cm. Inside the double floor you can install tanks for clear and recovery water, water pump and pipes, loading and unloading valves, heating system radiators, on board equipments basic components, batteries, battery chargers, inverters, power stations, air conditioners. The best solution aimed at vehicles that feature the best technology available today.
Within the 3.5 tons?
On larger vehicles, design is implemented without many compromises. However, what happens when you need to remain within the 3.5 tonnes? Starting from the assumption that the vast majority (75 %) of recreational vehicles produced today adopts, as base vehicle, the Fiat Ducato, the possible solutions are essentially two: either use the extraseries AL-KO AMC chassis, lowered and customized to best respond to the installers’ needs, or rely on the classic and functional Camping-Car Special Fiat chassis, in a 14 cm lowered version compared to the comparable high side-memebers equipped product of the Turinese factory, which not only is less efficient in terms of torsional rigidity but it is also less customizable than the special AL-KO AMC. Although they are two totally differently structures in relation to the design, torsional rigidity, suspensions and technical characteristics, they can be installed with a considerable height saving compared to the standard Fiat chassis: -22 cm for the AL-KO chassis, – 14 cm for the Fiat CCS. A veritable treasure to exploit for the double floor implementation, be it through type, i.e. designed in order to ensure free cross spaces aimed at storage and equipments housing, with an interspace over the entire surface of the vehicle, or technical, with an interspace sometimes located only in particular areas of the vehicle.
With 3.5 quintals, is double floor better?
On balance, then, for a medium size vehicle with an overall capacity lower than 3.5 tonnes, is it appropriate to adopt the double floor or not? From today’s marketed vehicles experience, we can draw some interesting conclusions. First and foremost, a vehicle equipped with double floor, regardless of the solution adopted (technical or through), is immediately perceived by the customers as more complete, more refined and more suitable for an all-weather use, including winter. The technical peculiarities developed by the different aforementioned manufacturers show that the adoption of the double bottom can be also consistent with the driving limits imposed by the standard driving license B, while at technical level, the placement of the most delicate components in special compartments not exposed to extreme temperatures (neither too hot nor too cold), dust, weathering or any debris, prolongs their life, under standard use conditions. The models featuring shallow water tanks placed at the center of the passenger compartment definitely show, especially in fully loaded conditions, a much higher road holding, with a low centre of gravity and a reduced tendency to roll when cornering. So, is all that glitters gold? Certainly not. A poorly designed double floor or, better, a double floor designed and built without taking into consideration its management and maintenance over the years along with the need for access to the standard maintenance operations, can prove to be a source of problems, whose solution sometimes is quite difficult. In fact, the vehicles in which it is possible to extract, in case of need, the tanks, or in which all the water system fittings are easily accessible in case of leaks are still few.