WOODBINE, IOWA - TOMMY Gate Company is in the final stages of testing on the first American-made cantilever lift for panel vans. It promises to be a highly sought after product in a market that is seeing some rapid changes.

Van popularity in America is growing. Companies that historically would have bought trucks are shifting to the more efficient 'panel' van. Improved fuel efficiency and a more modern aesthetic are key factors in the increasing sales of Mercedes' Sprinter (with Ford's Transit and Nissan's NV looking to follow). Panel vans have been in wide use in highly-populated European cities for years and are a natural fit for cantilever lifts.

Cantilever lifts, such as the new model engineered by Tommy Gate, offer a few benefits that current American-made liftgates do not. The cantilever design and larger platform ensure compatibility with cargo pallets as well as the option to load/unload equipment via the sides of the platform. In addition, the underside mount results in a less restrictive installation process. However, it is the laterally-folding platform, enabling the operator to access the rear doors while the platform is in a "stored" position, which makes this an ideal product for panel vans.

Currently, Tommy Gate has five prototype cantilever lifts in the field and the response has been across-the-board "overwhelmingly positive."

Tommy Gate anticipates a product launch mid-2011.