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Old Wheels, New Tech

Old Wheels, New Tech

Here's something you might not know. This year marks the 40th anniversary of when the last Citroën HY van rolled off the production line. So we thought it'd be fun to explore what is it about the HY van that makes them such a popular food truck and why demand for these Gallic load luggers remains as strong as ever.

Anyone who goes to a food festival, a vibrant city centre or a big musical gathering is sure to see at least one of these quirky corrugated vehicles. There must be hundreds out there now, all serving a global menu of mouth-watering dishes.

It must be said in practical terms, a Citroën HY is a demanding vehicle to own. It's no understatement to say driving one is hard work. With an old weezer engine first used in the 1930s, only three forward gears and no power steering, even a short (and slow) journey can be exhausting for the driver. Moreover, given the engine sits deeply into the driver's cab, it gets uncomfortably hot once the engine's warmed up. Great for a British winter perhaps, but for travelling to a summer festival, it will soon be très chaud, as the French might say.

It's little wonder most are towed to their various engagements.

So why do today's food entrepreneurs invest in a slow, clunky vehicle they prefer not to drive? A van you should note that can cost a small fortune if you want one that isn't irredeemably rotten.

The first reason goes back to when the H Series vans were launched in 1947. Although Citroën didn't realise their design would be so enduring, their aim was always to create a no-frills but versatile vehicle.


A typical owner was a French smallholder who would load up their HY van with produce, turn up to a local market, throw open the side panel and get straight to selling. The deceptively spacious interior providing full head height accessibility and acres of space for a sales counter, ample storage for their wares and cooking gear if required.


These are the same attributes that today's mobile food businesses need. You'll find contemporary HY food vendors who have installed pizza ovens, plancher grills and chip shop ranges. An upgraded HY with suitable modifications becomes a modern full-spec kitchen on wheels.


The most important reason for their popularity is that an HY is a marketing powerhouse for mobile food businesses, as people are naturally attracted to the retro looks of these distinctive vans. Brightly painted and adorned with a business logo, they will always stand out, garnering a closer look from curious punters.


The addition of a chalkboard menu, a touch of colourful bunting coupled with the aroma of mouth-watering cooking and strong turnover is assured.


It's now time to mention one super-quick modification that HY owners can add to their toolbox that's guaranteed to drive sales.

Commissioning a branded food ordering app will bring cutting edge tech to promoting your luxury version of meals on wheels. It'll give punters the freedom to order their grub in advance as they enjoy an event. So they can have a carefree look around, then pick up their meal at the allotted time and always jump the queue.

A food ordering app means you can offer on-site table service and remote deliveries. In addition, customers can use it for ordering extras when they find they want yet more fabulous food.

As helpful is that you'll be building a contact list to inform punters of other events you're planning to attend. And if your business has a bricks and mortar venue, you'll be able to promote your home delivery services too.

So, if you're a food business with an HY van, we hope you continue to enjoy the many unique features of your ageing French runaround. That said, if you have any kind of mobile food offering and want to up the wattage of your event-based marketing, then a branded food ordering app will help you on the road to riches.



It's a clever bit of 21st-century tech that will enhance your on-site service, boost sales, and generate enduring customer loyalty. Some businesses would drive a long way for benefits like that!


Unlike other food ordering platforms, we're committed to your success, so if you want to rev up the marketing of your mobile food business, call our team today on 0161 222 7672 or visit www.deptofdigital.com to find out more.


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