Here Steven Cowell, Technical Sales Manager for Volkswagen Group Fleet Services and Barry Hamblin, Cardiac Responder for the Leeds Medical Transfer Ambulance Service offer their personal insights into why Group Vehicles have become established icons for the emergency services.
The COVID-19 crisis continues to place an unprecedented demand on the UK’s emergency services.
The uses and requirements that emergency vehicles face are as varied as the range of Volkswagen Group Vehicles servicing the demands. Beyond the traditional police, ambulance and fire services, emergency service vehicles are used for everything from bomb disposal, to organ transportation, to national security emergencies; so finding the right vehicle is essential, and Volkswagen Group Vehicles have a proud history in meeting those needs.
The ŠKODA Octavia leads the way. In 2019 it accounted for around 25% of all ŠKODA blue light vehicles. The same year saw the Octavia Estate become the best-selling emergency services model, with a 208% year-on-year increase.
Steven Cowell said: “ŠKODA models are a longstanding emergency services favourite. They’re easy to equip with blue light technology and offer reliability, efficiency and performance.
“With its ability to meet the demands made on it, including performance capabilities and carrying all the specialist kit emergency service vehicles can require, the Octavia ticks all the boxes.”
ŠKODA models such as the Superb and the Kodiaq are hot on the Octavia’s tracks. The Superb is increasing in popularity and a pair of ŠKODA Superb Estates recently went into service with the Leeds Medical Transfer Ambulance Service (MTAS).
Barry Hamblin, MTAS Cardiac Responder, explained: “We need to transport organs safely and in the shortest possible time and this car is superb. It’s extremely reliable and a pleasure to drive.
“The earlier an organ transplant can take place, the better the success rate, so time is crucial. The transfer window for a heart transplant means there’s just two hours before the organ becomes unviable.
The ŠKODA Superb Estate is knocking time off our journeys and helping us save lives.”
The ŠKODA Kodiaq has good ground clearance and a high cabin that provides greater visibility and multi-purpose use – ideal for a number of blue light demands.
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service have seen the potential of these attributes and have recently took delivery of 30 new Kodiaqs.
The Kodiaq can be specifically designed for canine teams, fitted with driver assistance and safety features that ensure police dogs can travel safely and securely. Its standout features include two air-conditioned kennels equipped with temperature monitoring and special escape hatches for emergency evacuations.
Group Vehicles also have a strong presence in police tactical and specialist roles – and Audi and Volkswagen are key players here.
Volkswagen Golf GTIs have long been the vehicle of choice for tactical operations, while Audi S3s and SQ7s and other more specific models are increasingly being deployed by a variety of specialist teams.
Surrey Police recently took delivery of an Audi S3 for their motorway enforcement team. And a number of VW Amaroks have been acquired by the MOD for their bomb disposal teams.
Steven Cowell adds: “The Volkswagen and Audi models have always had the right spec for the rapid response and tactical teams where meeting very particular demands is crucial.
“It’s why the Volkswagen Crafter has been so popular as a police riot van. It has a high payload capacity, can store a lot of equipment and personnel. It’s a similar case with the Amaroks ordered by the MOD. Once adapted they’re perfect for the job.”
With the COVID-19 crisis placing huge demands on the emergency services, Volkswagen Group loaned vehicles from its blue light fleet, at no cost, to help cover emergency provision. Also, Volkswagen Group has worked alongside approved converters to fulfil new orders to emergency service customers and deliver vehicles earlier than planned.
The levels of service and reliability provided by Volkswagen Group Vehicles is a large part of why Group Vehicles will always be seen as genuine icons for the blue light services.