The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association has taken delivery of 44 of the vehicles and expects to take on more in the near future.
They are used to transport young dogs for ‘real world’ training sessions, where they get used to crowds and noisy situations.
The charity’s business support manager, Gordon Smith, said: ‘Mercedes-Benz vehicles might not appear to fit with the image of a registered charity which should, and indeed does, think very carefully about how it spends its money.
‘But our decision to buy Vito vans was based upon a comparison of wholelife costs for commercial vehicles of this size from a range of manufacturers. Of course, purchase price was an important element, but we also considered other items such as fuel and oil, insurance, repair and maintenance costs and residual values.’
The vans, lined with insulating fibreglass and fitted with dog cages, ventilation and soft lighting, were supplied in conjunction with Lloyds TSB autolease.