Mercedes – Hack-my-Van Competition – ThunderPods


Mercedes Vans run an annual competition where different teams compete in a dragon’s den style pitch to win a Mercedes Vito van.

While all other participants went with a business solution that fit within the van,

(The other entries were: mobile physiotherapy, mobile VR showroom, mobile STEM educational space, special abilities bus, mobile silent disco DJ booth)

Our pitch was to extend the use of vans by creating a modular storage system for fitting out the interiors of vans. The intention is to extend the versatility of the van by making it possible to change the use of the van. I.e. a shelving unit for tradesmen could be swapped out for a camper van unit on the weekend. This would add value to the van by allowing people to adapt the use based on their specific needs at any time.

Our first video pitch (Caution: Contains German language):

Originally we planned on a unit that filled the entire cargo space of the van and could be loaded in and out as needed, just like the Thunderbird2.

As we thought a little more about this idea, we considered the danger of having a 400kg+ product that could fall on the user may be more of a risk than worth perusing. This was also combined with the technical and cost overhead of having some system that could load the module in and out of the Van. It was also considered that such a module would occupy too much space in any garage to really offer much benefit.

So the decision was made to pivot our idea to more portable units that could be arranged within the back of the van would be safer, more adaptable, practical affordable. The Pods were designed to interlock at half positions making it possible to change orientations and set different configurations. The units fit together like Lego in the van. The user would then be able to select units based on their needs to best fit inside.


We decided on a unit system of 360mm, this was based on internal dimensions but also making the unit the right size to be easily handled. Three units length in any direction, and four units by volume was our max limit. Even with these constraints this still allowed many different sized units. Adding to this some key joinery options: drawers, shelves, cabinets etc. There is quickly a large number of possible units.
This also of course, lends itself well to parametric design.


We also offered the designs open source for people to fork the design and come up with their own iterations.

Fabrication of a few full-scale units was carried our on the CNC to demonstrate the pods at the Hack-my-van event

The presentation went well and we received a lot of positive feedback from the judges and other contestants.

We were happy with our performance in the presentation and were able to place 2nd behind Mindkits scoring $5000 AUD from RedZed lending.


We would like to thank Mercedes-Benz and RedZed for hosting us in Melbourne.




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