Newcastle-based ‘Daft as a Brush Cancer Patient Care' has signed a fleet deal with Nissan for 50 NV200 vans to transport patients to and from Freeman Hospital in High Heaton.
An initial order of 25 Nissan NV200 Combi models will be delivered over the next two years, with the final 25 planned for 2014. The ultimate aim is to transport 1,000 cancer patients per week, or 50,000 a year, in the vehicles.
Daft as a Brush Cancer Patient Care, which launched in March 2011, chauffeurs patients free of charge from North and South Tyneside, Northumberland and Newcastle to Freeman Hospital for chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment.
The charity said that a deciding factor in selecting the Nissan vans was that cancer sufferers who may be infirm or unsteady can enter and exit the vehicles easily.
Brian Burnie, trustee of the charity, said: "The accessibility of the NV200 Combi validated our decision to work with Nissan. The twin sliding side doors, coupled with the addition of a bespoke external footstep - manufactured on the recommendations of dealer group, Benfield Nissan - offer choice and convenience of entry.
"The bespoke vehicles are spacious and have significant passenger and load carrying space. There is considerable leg and knee room and even with all seven seats in use, there is still space in the luggage area for a wheelchair and medical box."
The NV200 Combi is easily adapted to offer flexible passenger configurations. Its roomy interior comfortably seats up to seven people or can accommodate a cargo volume of 3.1m³, making it well-suited for both passenger and commercial use.
Despite the spacious interior, the Nissan NV200 Combi has an extremely compact body - only 4.4m long and 1.69m wide - and is powered by a 1.5-litre dCi turbodiesel engine which provides a fuel efficient performance even when heavily laden.
Burnie added: "To date, our eight vehicles have clocked up 60,000 miles between them. As a charitable trust it's critical that fuel consumption is as economical as possible. We selected the Combi based on its excellent diesel efficiency which makes it one of the cheapest means of travel on the market for that quantity of passengers."
As well as being fully liveried with the charity's logo, each LCV will be adopted by a local primary school that will design artwork for the rear panels and create a booklet about the school/charity to be read by patients on their journeys.
Barry Beeston, Nissan fleet sales director, said: "We are thrilled to be providing a fleet of Nissan NV200 Combis for such an amazing and inspirational cause.
“The charity is a lifeline for cancer patients and we're proud and honoured that our vehicles can go some way towards making life that bit easier and more comfortable for patients requiring trips to and from hospital."
Burnie concluded: "We're really pleased with the eight personalised vehicles that have already been delivered and look forward to building up our fleet.
“We chose Nissan to supply our vehicles for a number of reasons: it is a North East-based manufacturer which appealed to us and was able to provide just the right vehicle for our needs at an affordable price. We look forward to our relationship with Nissan continuing for years to come."