Traveling light isn’t something many people do these days. With two kids and a wife who likes to bring everything where ever we go, I am the guy with the roof pack, bike rack, and the cargo area filled to the roof. But I am not the only one, far from it. Here in downtown Boston, roof packs are not only popular among skiers but many others who use their vehicle as temporary storage. Because now days we drive to places where we bike, as opposed to just going for a bike ride, and because our cars are filled with other crap, bikes racks are equally popular in the summer. Then there are those people who surf, kayak, or canoe.
Point is, to move all this stuff around it’s best to strap it down onto the car. For years Yakima has been making all kind of roof and hitch mounted racks. Recently they even started making roof-top tents and cute little trailers. Chances are that if you use it, they can strap it down and move it.
But fitting the exact component to your vehicle is still the tricky part. For instance, the original roof pack I wanted did fit nicely on my 4Runner… until I tried to open the hatch. The spoiler thingy of top of the hatch that houses the rear wiper wouldn’t clear the pack. But if I had higher after-market cross-bars, it would work fine. Crazy, right? How many people actually know this?
Toyota, who make and sell a lot of cars, recently entered into a partnership with Yakima. Toyota customers now can purchase Yakima’s vehicle racks, bike, ski and boat mounts, cargo boxes, and other cargo management accessories directly from participating Toyota dealers nationwide.
“According to SEMA, 9 out of 10 consumers purchase accessories for their vehicles; with six out of 10 spending at least $1,500 on accessories. Additionally, the majority will buy accessories within the first 90 days of purchasing their vehicle and most would prefer to buy accessories at the dealership – yet fewer than five percent do, due to lack of availability. This new, integrated sales experience enables both Toyota and Yakima to meet that consumer need”
My hope here is that Toyota itself will spend a few engineering bucks to determine the best rack options for each model. This will remove any guess work, trail and error, and poor fitment for both the buyer and the dealer. And let’s hope that dealers stock a solid inventory of various racks. And let’s pray that there is at least some training for the sales people because otherwise none of this will be worth the effort.
It is my understanding the Yakima products that will be available at dealerships won’t be re-branded, which means they should retain Yakima’s retail price. This is in contrast to many automakers, mostly European ones, who re-brand Thule products as their own and charge a significant premium for it. Big benefit for many people here is that these racks will be installed as a dealer accessory and their cost can be incorporated into the price, and therefore the financing, of a new car. It would be nice for many new car buyers not to have another $600 charge on their credit card for the purchase of racks for their new vehicle.