Fleet News

Fleet showcase: emergency vehicles

Manufacturers eager to grab a share of the blue-light market turned out in force to the National Association of Police Fleet Managers’ exhibition in Wiltshire to demonstrate their products.

The show also gave manufacturers the chance to showcase some more unusual and eye-catching emergency vehicles – not all of which will make it into production.

Among those were a BMW Z4M Coupe with livery on just for display purposes, a Lotus Elise police car, a MINI Cooper ambulance, and a gleaming white Audi R8 supercar with blue lights flashing on the dashboard.

Disappointingly for police fleet managers, this was just a mock-up, but it certainly drew a crowd. “It’s just for fun really,” said Bev Holloway, Audi’s R8 and specialist sales operations manager.

  • Land Rover

    Although it caused misery for home owners, the recent flooding in the UK has been something of a boon for Land Rover.

    Emergency services struggling to reach areas cut off by rising waters have seen the benefits of off-road vehicles, and Land Rover has seen enquiries rise.

    “A few more police forces, ambulance services and the like think they might need some more all-weather vehicles in the wake of the recent floods,” said Dave Easton, Land Rover’s national account manager.

    “There are a few more that think if this is what’s going to happen with global warming then it could be useful.”

    Land Rover made extra vehicles available to emergency services during the floods.

    The company was also showing off a liveried Freelander 2 at the NAPFM show.

    “Not everyone wants what a Defender or Range Rover will do for them – they might be looking for a rural beat vehicle that needs extra mobility off-road just in case,” said Mr Easton.

  • Peugeot

    New vans and in-house equipping formed the basis of Peugeot’s presence at the show.

    The Expert van was on the stand in three different guises, including a cell vehicle developed with West Midlands police and a dog van concept vehicle, developed with the help of Wiltshire police.

    A long wheelbase Boxer van, kitted out as a Police Support Unit, was also on display.

    As well as the vans, the forthcoming 4007 SUV was on show.

    Developed with Mitsubishi, Peugeot was hoping to gauge reaction from the emergency services on where it could fit in with their fleets.

  • Jankel

    This terrifying-looking contraption is not something out of a Hollywood movie like Mad Max or Judge Dredd – it’s actually in service with the Metropolitan police and in Essex.

    Put together by armoured vehicles company Jankel, this is a Ford F-450 Super GT with a riot protection system.

    It seats eight and includes removable protection for the windows, side skirts to stop petrol bombs from being thrown underneath and run flat tyres.

    Jankel’s Lorne Stoddart said the vehicle was generally used for riot control.

    “It’s a show of force,” he said.

  • Ford

    The new Mondeo took pride of place at the Ford stand, in five-door and estate form, sporting full police livery.

    There was also a paramedic’s Mondeo on show, but blue-light direct sales manager Terry Adams said the main interest was likely to come next year when the Mondeo ST is released.

    “The ST will be the ultra high-performance model,” he said.

    “It will be an inner-city response type of car.

    “There’s a lot of interest in new Mondeo because of its size.

    “It’s a very big and roomy car with a good payload capacity.”

    Ford’s biggest seller in the police market is the Focus, and a fiery ST in police livery stood prominently on display.

    Mr Adams said several forces used the car for rapid intervention and during automatic number plate recognition operations.

  • Nissan

    The new Qashqai, sporting full police graphics, stood proudly on Nissan’s stand to show police forces what they are missing.

    The majority of police cars come from an approved list – known as the PITO framework – and Nissan is pushing to have that list widened next year.

    “We’re hoping when the contract comes up for renewal that the forces open it up to more manufacturers,” said major accounts manager James Wood.

    “The Qashqai has been out to a few forces to test and they love it.

    “A vehicle like this has huge advantages over more traditional hatchbacks and it’s the model that we’re really trying to make work.”

  • GM

    General Motors was hoping to strengthen its relationship with the emergency services following its move to an in-house specification operation earlier this year.

    It had one of the first right-hand-drive Hummer H3s on its stand, which GM’s special vehicle projects manager Dick Ellam said could be of particular interest to forces looking for an armed response vehicle, or for use in crowd control.

    He said a Hummer infrastructure was being put in place to increase its appeal.

    “We’re in the process of building the network to meet customer demand in the UK,” he said.

    Also on display was a fully liveried Chevrolet Captiva, and a mock production line of Vauxhall’s Astra, showing how GM Special Vehicles adapts vehicles at its Millbrook base.

    “Blue light is a big market for us,” Mr Ellam said.

    “It comprises 7,500 units a year and we have nearly 30% of that. We want to increase that there.”

  • Mitsubishi

    The new Outlander is the latest 4x4 that Mitsubishi is hoping will impress the blue light market.

    National fleet manager Andy Wertheim said there had been already been some orders for the medium-sized off-roader.

    In complete contrast was the new ‘i’, a four-seater city car. Mr Wertheim said it could be used as a run around for community officers or as a pool car.

    “It’s got lower emissions than a Vauxhall Corsa or a Ford Fiesta so it could fit into that niche as well,” he added. “We’re selling them as fast as we can bring them in.”

    Mr Wertheim said the specialist market was an important one for Mitsubishi. “We’ll do nearly 500 specialist conversions this year alone,” he said.

  • Volvo

    Volvo unveiled its brand new V70 police car at a ceremony that also included an example of a standard police vehicle used by all forces in Sweden.

    Volvo is among several manufacturers working with the NAPFM to develop a national standard for police cars and equipment that would reduce the amount of time they take to make and kit out. The Swedish concept is intended to demonstrate the effectiveness of such an idea.

    Volvo’s special vehicles manager Sarah Tottle said: “We’re very keen to get started on a UK equivalent as soon as the forces can tell us what they want.”

    The V70 is based on the S80 saloon.

  • Round-up

    The centrepiece of BMW Authorities’ pavilion was its Authorities Enabled Concept (AEC) vehicle, which includes a raft of facilities that could soon be standard in the company’s police cars. The concept was developed in tandem with the NAPFM and sports features such as a roof connector, with ports for a light bar and GSM aerial, which would remove the need to delve deep into the car’s wiring to add such items.

    Proton is hoping to build on the success it has enjoyed in the north of England over the past 12 years. Humberside police operates about 300 Protons, mainly Impians and Gen-2s, all of which are converted to LPG. Proton’s general manager for sales and marketing, Simon Park, said it was value for money and the proven environmental benefits of LPG conversions that made Proton a viable alternative for other forces.

    Skoda showed off a new, more rugged derivative of the Octavia, the Scout. With four-wheel-drive and raised suspension, Skoda has high hopes for its progress in the emergency services. The new Fabia was also on display.

    The show saw the UK debut of SEAT’s new soft-roader, the Altea Freetrack. With raised suspension and a more rugged appearance than the standard Altea, it could find a home with rural forces. “For rural areas where the local bobby wants to go down a dirt track, this would be ideal,” said Perry Clarke, SEAT’s national business sales manager.

    Hyundai is a newcomer to the blue light market, and only began to delve into the sector following the appointment of Gavin Thompson. Mr Thompson, direct sales manager for government, military and police, joined Hyundai in early 2006, and has set out to bring Hyundai to the attentions of the emergency services.

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