FORD is marking 55 years of the Transit van with more than three million UK sales - and by putting its own fleet of vehicles out for use by the NHS and other organisations in the current coronavirus crisis.
Aside from Ford vehicles already in operation with the emergency services, more than 200 Ford of Britain demonstrator, pool and press vehicles have been deployed to 40 different organisations - including 10 NHS ambulance service trusts - in support of their community-focused work. This vehicle total includes 131 Transit vans.
"Throughout this unprecedented crisis, the van economy has made an unrelenting and continued contribution to the well-being of this country," said Mandy Dean, director for commercial vehicles, Ford of Britain.
"As soon as we saw the huge rise in demand for vehicles to support everything from home deliveries to providing transport for care homes, we took action and pressed into urgent service every available Transit and other vehicle in our fleet."
More than half of the fleets Ford is supporting represent NHS ambulance service trusts and other "blue light" services, accounting for 38 Transits, 12 Transit Connects, eight Transit Customs, three Transit Couriers and two Ranger pick-ups.
The UK is becoming increasingly reliant on commercial vehicles, as evidenced by the growth in van sales in recent years, with around one in 10 British workers now dependent on a van to carry out their work, equating to helping some 3.4 million people.
The first Transits came off the line at Ford's Langley plant in Essex in 1965 and today the range is gearing up for electrification with plug-in hybrid variants and a zero emission battery powered version which will also be sold in the United States.
The Transit Custom PHEV is due to be fitted with geofencing technology as part of the FordPass Connect telematics package from later this year. This will enable the vehicle to switch automatically to zero-emission driving on "EV Now" mode when entering a low-emission zone, or a user-specified geofenced area.
FordPass Connect modems will feature as standard on all Ford commercial vehicles - Fiesta Van, all Transit and Tourneo family models and Ranger pick-up, and as an aftermarket option for Courier.
This technology will help ensure businesses comply with emissions zone requirements and reduce the likelihood of charges or penalties.
The Fiesta Van will later this year be available with mild-hybrid (mHEV) technology on 125ps variants of the 1.0-litre EcoBoost, targeting CO2 emissions of 96g/km and fuel economy of 56mpg under the old NEDC rating system.