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If you have less experience in this industry, you probably don’t know the full extent of truck bed designs and why it is called a tonneau cover.

By understanding more about the history of a tonneau and why it got its name as a tonneau cover, you can find the best fit for your vehicle too. It is worth noting today that we only typically mention these covers with pickup trucks, but a tonneau is any open compartment in any vehicle type.

Tonneau covers were originally designed to protect cargo from rain, dust, and snow. The word tonneau comes from the French and means cask to refer to the open rear compartment in a vehicle. Once covers were created for this compartment, the term tonneau cover was born.

The term tonneau has been used to refer to a specific feature and style of automobile bodies. It is less used today for this reason, but tonneau covers have become a modern accessory that is seen daily on a variety of vehicles. This guide explains more about tonneau covers and why they got this name.

After careful research and plenty of industry experience, our team has plenty of knowledge of tonneau covers and their history. They have impacted the way people use trucks today and modern technology allows drivers to take full advantage of these accessories.

Table of Contents

Why Is It Called A Tonneau Cover?

The term tonneau cover is a French word that translates to cask. Tonneaus were invented as open rear compartments at the back of automobiles. By making a cover for the tonneau, the tonneau cover was created.

Tonneau covers were first created to protect goods from water, dust, sun, and rain. They have been around for over 100 years now and have been redesigned many times since their introduction.

A tonneau cover is a hard, protective cover that covers the bed of a pickup truck. It usually has a hinged front section that can be flipped up to allow quick access to the truck bed.

The tonneau cover is designed to protect the truck from scratches and dents from cargo being transported in the bed. The design also helps to reduce wind noise and drag caused by turbulence at higher speeds.

It gets its name from the French because it is so widely known as a reliable storage area to keep your cargo safe and protected from weather, debris, and theft. In the 1930s, traditional motorists began referring to modern-day truck bed covers as tonneau covers.

What Does Tonneau Mean?

Tonneau refers to the rear storage compartment in a vehicle like a pickup truck. It can also refer to a seating area, like in the back of a vehicle where passengers can sit. But today, this term mostly refers to the storage area in your vehicle.

These covers offer several benefits such as protection from the elements and theft prevention. Tonneau covers also provide a better view of what is in the truck bed since it is not covered by a tarp.

The tonneau is the open, uncovered area in a vehicle. This is why they are called tonneau covers because they cover this area on the truck or car, protecting it from the elements while reducing drag.

Tonneau covers can be made of metal, plastic, or vinyl. They can be custom-fit for a specific vehicle and can also be bought as an aftermarket accessory.

It is located on the rear of the truck bed, and it can be either hinged or folded. These tonneau covers are often used to store cargo that is not in use. This is essential for trucks to keep their beds protected.

Why Were Tonneau Covers Invented?

Back in the older days of the tonneau, soft covers were made for racers to cover these open areas in their sports cars. The reason for these covers was to keep the area covered when the vehicle wasn’t being used.

They are also often found on racing cars, where they serve as an aerodynamic aid to reduce drag. The versatility of a tonneau cover has only improved as technology has continued to advance over time too.

The discovery was also made that these covers were useful for racing performance too. By covering this open area, the tonneau cover reduced the drag in the vehicle when racing so you could reach faster speeds.

The design was then adapted for wider use to protect cargo along with improving vehicle performance. It was at this time when tonneau covers became much more popular, got their name, and became a mass-produced product for automotive enthusiasts and racers.

What Is A Tonneau Cover Used For?

A tonneau cover is made from durable materials and has a flexible design that opens up for easy access to the truck bed. They are versatile and are properly sized to fit a variety of truck beds too.

These covers are often used by people who want to store their tools and equipment in the back of their pickup truck without having them exposed to the elements. It can also have different features like a lockable, sliding, or roll-up design. Tonneau covers are extremely easy to install too.

Improved Gas Mileage

A tonneau cover will provide improved gas mileage as a bonus feature. They have an aerodynamic design that helps with airflow to reduce drag within your truck bed. This helps a lot with fuel efficiency.

These covers are the perfect way to protect your cargo and provide a sleek, aerodynamic look for your truck. On average, you will see a reduction in fuel usage between 5-10 percent depending on the cover and truck type.

Better Truck Bed Security

Tonneau covers are a great way to protect your truck bed from the weather and theft. They provide better truck bed security because they're harder to break into.

These covers have been around for decades for this reason specifically. They serve as the perfect way to keep critical tools and equipment dry and well protected from the rain, snow, and other elements.

They tend to have a durable exterior finish that can hold extra weight along with a locking mechanism to keep them securely closed. Be sure to consider the lock type on your tonneau cover before buying too.

Truck Bed Organization

Tonneau covers are a great way to get organized too. They help you store your tools and gear, while also protecting you from the elements. Depending on the cover type you buy, they will give you easy access too.

They can be used to store tools and other items in the truck bed with ease. With the advancement of technology, they have made it easier to keep your truck organized to work out too.

Sleek Exterior Look

Tonneau covers are also used to provide a sleeker exterior look on your vehicle. They have a nice finish that looks great on different vehicles with different color options to match your vehicle perfectly.

The best thing about the cover is how well it will help your vehicle retain its value too. By keeping the truck bed in better shape, the truck will last longer and less damage will occur over time.

We tend to recommend the fiberglass or aluminum tonneau cover types because they are much more durable with a refined look. The vinyl covers are less advanced and do not provide the same level of protection either.

Why Is It Called A Tonneau Cover?

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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