An increasing number of emergency services are using the WAS lightweight box system.

Highly diverse aspects have to be considered when planning a new type of emergency vehicle. Life cycle costs, working methods and areas of deployment, space needed, ergonomics, consumption, and just as importantly, total vehicle weight have to be taken into account during planning. To improve our consultancy service, we´ve evaluated past experience from completed projects and users´ feedback. We pass on the results to our customers to help them with decision making. Recently there has been increasing demand worldwide for box bodies. Here we have summarised the factors considered by emergency services when deciding to buy a box vehicle.

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1. Life cycle costs

Initial acquisition costs can be more efficient for some vehicle systems than for a box body - however, the box pays off in the long term. When the base vehicle reaches the end of its life cycle (through ageing or accident), the box can continue to be used on a new base vehicle, going through a second life cycle. The issue becomes more complex when considering that, in case of damage, individual parts or entire side panels of a box body can be easily and cheaply repaired or replaced. Comparable alternative vehicle systems do not offer this option. WAS boxes are manufactured using the VacuTherm process, guaranteeing a stable, robust construction which is still thinner and lighter than conventional systems. The low weight improves energy efficiency, lowers fuel consumption, and ultimately, has lower life cycle costs.

2. User benefits

A box body does not automatically have larger exterior dimensions than an equipped box-type van. Even if the exterior box width or height are identical to those of a box-type van, the construction will have more space, and especially greater headroom inside. Slimline models with a total weight of 3.5 t can now be built with the WAS lightweight box system. A box weighing less means that a far greater payload can be transported (e.g. weight reserve) for equipment and medical technical supplies. Vehicles of this type are suitable for urban traffic conditions, still providing all the advantages offered by the box system in the patient compartment, for example, huge scope for planning the interior fittings - customised for application and working methods. A lightweight construction does not automatically mean it´s “diminished”. Vehicles weighing up to 10 t can be constructed using this method. The crucial factor is that the WAS box system can be enlarged, whilst retaining a comparatively low weight. Regardless of whether the concept is large or small, more space in the patient compartment not only provides a better working environment for emergency personnel, but also larger external storage compartments and greater configuration flexibility. A patient transport ambulance with a box body can also be used as an emergency ambulance. The separation of patient compartment and equipment storage makes it easier to access storage areas for oxygen bottles, rescue materials and secondary level instruments without restricting activities in the compartment or soiling it.

3. Safety

Our customers frequently report that box body ambulances are more visible in traffic, since they are usually higher and their appearance differs from other vehicles such as delivery vans. Greater headroom means even more safety. Results from the R66 roll-over tests and compliance with DIN 13500 prove that a lightweight construction can be remarkably stable.

4. Environment

Many emergency services wish to take a responsible attitude towards the environment and C02 emissions. Since some services deploy quite large vehicle fleets and cover long distances yearly, they consider it important to reduce emissions. As with life cycle costs: less weight means less fuel consumption, meaning reduced emissions. It is therefore essential to factor in the permissible total weight when planning. Lighter bodies have a direct effect on energy consumption and environmental impact. Many sectors are observing a trend towards more lightweight designs up to 3.5 t. Longer and more flexible box use reduces the overall environmental impact. The higher insulation values of lightweight boxes also help to save energy, since less heating or air conditioning are needed.


This text was first published in the WAS customer magazine „Safety First“. You can request a free copy of this and many other interesting topics by sending an e-mail to

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