Knowledge Base Article


How many extra seats can I add to my van in Australia?


To calculate the maximum seating capacity of a van in Australia, you'll need to consider several factors such as the van's make and model, the available space for the proposed seating configuration, and Australian road transport regulations.

Even if a van can physically accommodate a certain number of seats, it's important to consider the total weight capacity of the vehicle, including passengers and cargo.

The National Code of Practice VSB 14 (Vehicle Standards Bulletin 14) provides guidelines for modifying vehicles, including the transformation of goods carrying vehicles into passenger vehicles by adding seats. 

VSB 14 outlines a method to determine when a goods carrying vehicle (such as a van) transitions into a passenger carrying vehicle based on the total number of seating positions and the vehicle's load carrying capacity.

The clause reads: 'A goods carrying vehicle becomes a passenger carrying vehicle when the total number of seating positions multiplied by 68 kg is 50% or more of the vehicle's load carrying capacity.'

Here's a breakdown of the calculation specified in the clause:

  1. Total Number of Seating Positions: Count all the available seating positions in the van. This includes both existing factory-installed seats and any additional seats added during modifications.

  2. 68 kg Per Seating Position: According to this clause in VSB 14, each seating position is assigned a weight of 68 kilograms. This value represents an average weight per occupant for calculation purposes.

  3. Load Carrying Capacity: Determine the vehicle's load carrying capacity.  This refers to the maximum weight the vehicle is rated to carry as per the manufacturer's specifications, taking into account the combined weight of passengers and cargo.  This is also known as the payload.  The payload can be calculated as the difference between the vehicle's GVM and its 'Unladen Mass' (be sure to add an estimate for the weight of the extra seats to the 'Unladen Mass').  This information can usually be found in the owner's manual or on the manufacturer's website.

  4. Calculation: Multiply the total number of seating positions by 68 kg to find the total weight that these seating positions represent.  Then, calculate what percentage this total weight represents in relation to the vehicle's load carrying capacity.

    For example:

    • If a van has 8 seating positions (seats for passengers), the calculation would be: 8 seating positions * 68 kg = 544 kg (total weight represented by seating positions).
    • If the van's load carrying capacity is, let's say, 1000 kg, then 544 kg (the weight of the seating positions) is 54.4% of the vehicle's load carrying capacity.

  5. Comparison: If the total weight represented by the seating positions (as calculated in step 4) is 50% or more of the vehicle's load carrying capacity, as specified in the clause, then the van is considered to have transitioned from a goods carrying vehicle to a passenger carrying vehicle.  Passenger vehicles generally provide a higher level of safety than goods carrying vehicles.  This means engineering evidence must be provided that the vehicle meets those higher safety standards, and if so, the van will need a classification change from a goods carrying vehicle to a passenger carrying vehicle.

Always consult the relevant authorities, the vehicle modifier and an Authorised Person or Approved Vehicle Certifier for precise guidance and compliance with regulations when modifying a vehicle's seating capacity or classification.

It's crucial to emphasize that any modification to a vehicle's seating capacity or structure should be done in accordance with VSB 14 and other applicable regulations.  Failure to comply with these standards can lead to legal and safety issues.  Therefore, consulting with a vehicle modifier or an authorised person who understands VSB 14 guidelines is highly recommended before making any modifications to convert a goods carrying vehicle into a passenger vehicle.

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