Takla has been around for well over a decade now, and have been the almost undisputed leaders in seat covers and interior vehicle protection in South Africa. And their export business is expanding nicely.
Having known the owner for a similar number of years, in 2012 I approached him with an idea. It was to take their already successful waterproof and indestructible floor mats (TakMats) and add a unique feature. It occurred to me that some of the more rugged four-wheel drives, such as Land Cruiser 70-series, Land Rover Defenders and Jeep Wranglers, have one thing in common in that they are quite noisy inside. My question was, could this problem be solved?
I spent some time at the factory, sharing my ideas and within three days, we had a prototype for testing – which fell to me and my Land Cruiser 78. Typical of the Cruiser pickups, the 78 is delivered with an extremely ugly plastic floor covering. Leaving it in place, we fitted the TakMat over the top. Unlike the standard TakMat, this one extends way up the firewall and right through, under the seats. The finish around the gear levers is also a little different given that this mat is less bendy than the standard. The mat is a two-piece unit – one at front, and one behind the seats. We finished it off by embroidering some Land Cruiser logos on the gearbox tunnel cover.
Excited, I drove it out. I thought I noticed a difference in audio levels immediately, but knew that it could just be wishful thinking. It did some measurements with an audio meter, and the results were inconclusive. It seems that audio meters only tell part of the story. Yes, there was a difference with it fitted, but how much? In some conditions, seemingly not very much, and at other times, so significant I could hardly believe my ears. But is was good enough to put it into production.
Takla decided to launch the new product on a low-key basis, wanting to first test the market. Would the reduction in noise levels be as good as we thought?
Now that over 100 units have been shipped, the results are coming back. It’s not always easy to get client feedback, especially when a product is sold via a reseller. But when fitted by the folk at the Takla factory, it is easier. They reported that on many occasions Defender drivers have called back within 10 minutes, saying that they could not believe the difference. Feedback received during the many outdoor expos that Takla attends, has been unanimous in the affirmative. Almost unanimously they were told, ‘The product makes a significant difference’. Several Defender owners also reported that their suffering with overly hot floor-pans was over, which was an ‘unexpected bonus’. Defender and Land Cruiser owners are the ones coming back with the praises. We can only assume that the Jeep Wrangler and Mercedes G-wagen owners feel the same way.