Canopies protect your load | Motoring | Small Business Connect

Canvas, stainless steel, fibre-glass, aluminium – select the right canopy to suit your business needs to protect it from the weather and theft.

Bakkies – southern African car owners just can’t get enough of them.

No surprises then that the Toyota Hilux holds the title as South Africa’s all-time best selling vehicle.

In February, based on figures released by the Department of Trade and Industry, the Toyota Hilux topped the list of the biggest selling bakkies for that month.

But, as a business owner there is the not-so-little problem of the load being unprotected from the weather and theft. However, this is easily remedied – by getting a canopy. There is quite a bit to choose from, but to make the right choice, you need to know more about canopies.

Canopies are generally available in four kinds of materials:

  •  Canvas – This remains an ideal choice if you only need a temporary cover from time to time. It does not however provide really good security.
  •  Stainless steel – Mild steel metal canopies have lost their popularity due to rust and weight issues. In some cases 3CR12 stainless steel is now used in both canopies and trailers. It is very corrosion-resistant, strong and light, but pricey.
  • Aluminium canopies – These are gaining in popularity. They are extremely light and tough.
  • Fibre-glass – Most canopies are made from fibre-glass or glass reinforced polyester. They are cheaper than metal and almost as strong and durable as the former. They are slightly heavier than aluminium products.

Generally, aluminium canopies are the most durable and secure, but also the most expensive.

Another feature to be aware of before deciding which canopy will suit your bakkie is the shape of the canopy itself. Canopies come in two basic shapes.

Space saver or full-door canopies often come with a nose cone to help with aerodynamics and once fitted stick out above the roof of the cabin of the bakkie. The other shape is as high as a cabin roof and often has a half door that swings up.

Comparing the cost of a van versus a bakkie with a canopy, is usually what a business owner should look at when choosing from most popular small commercial vehicle range, the Nissan 200 series.

With the Nissan NP200 bakkie at R134 600, but with air-conditioning and safety pack it costs R152 200. The diesel 1.5 DCi is R193 400. The Nissan NV200 van starts at R212 300 and comes with safety pack and air-conditioner as standard. The diesel van costs R240 900.

The full canopy costs R11 500 installed. The slightly bigger canopy with nosecone is R13 000. The half-height standard canopy costs around R9 000, while an executive low-line canopy is around R11 000.

The differences between the standard and executive models include gas struts, roof rails, lockable door, UV tinted windows and interior light. The NP200 with a full canopy is R205 000. A roof height (low-line) canopy is priced at R203 000. The difference between a small van and a half-ton bakkie with canopy ranges from R30 000 to R35 000.

I have used Beekman fibre-glass shell canopies as an example of pricing for two reasons – the company has outlets across the country and it offers good service.

The fibre-glass canopy provider is the only local canopy manufacturer to achieve ISO9001 quality accreditation and to offer a two-year warranty on the shell and one year on the mechanical parts.

Andy Cab offers a three-year warranty on its shells. The full height canopies have better security due to its unitary construction without side windows and the large galvanised double doors. However, for the best security a van is still the best option. Despite this, the R30 000 cost difference is quite hefty.