The tricky balancing act that managers of emergency service vehicle fleets are required to perform has provided the impetus for a major development programme from Toyota Fleet.
Police patrol cars, ambulances and other front-line vehicles are publicly funded, so they must be seen to provide best value in terms of purchase price, whole-life costs and durability. At the same time cost-effectiveness cannot outweigh the needs of drivers, crew and passengers in terms of reliability, performance and safety.
Toyota Fleet’s new Bluelight Blueprint programme is designed to help such fleet managers achieve the perfect balance between cost and effectiveness. Toyota makes a wide range of vehicles, which meet and often exceed stringent official requirements, and with Bluelight it is developing bespoke marked cars for the emergency services.
Toyota Fleet is currently highlighting its four-wheel drive RAV4, Land Cruiser Colorado and Amazon vehicles and the mid-range Avensis. “The Toyota range has won a worldwide reputation for reliability and cost-effectiveness,” says Toyota Fleet’s General Manager Jon Pollock. “These are key qualities for bluelight vehicles, but we can demonstrate that our cars can meet the demands of the police and other emergency services on every count.
“At the same time we recognise that there are no blanket solutions. That’s why our team wants to visit fleet managers, learn their individual needs and suggest how elements of Bluelight Blueprint might help. We also listen carefully to those authorities already using our vehicles in front-line situations.”
Derbyshire Police has been using the off-road capability of RAV4 NVs in its rural response vehicles for five years and, along with West Mercia Police, also employs Land Cruiser Colorado GXs for motorway patrols and accident response. Meanwhile the first striped-up
Land Cruiser Amazon went on patrol with North Yorkshire Police last year. Avensis 1.6S four-door saloons have been on the beat in Sussex since 1999.
Hampshire Constabulary is monitoring the environmental impact of Toyota’s petrol-electric hybrid the Prius as a front-line patrol car. And eight years’ service is expected from the Coastguard’s Toyota Hilux 4WD Double Cab fleet, which carries search and rescue teams over terrain ranging from cliff-tops to mudflats.
Emergency services vehicles such as these need to be readily adaptable for conversions, including wiring and fitting of “blues and twos” [flashing lights and two-tone sirens], communications and emergency gear, night-scan lighting, reinforced bulkheads, racking, door and window locks, towing gear and additional lumbar support.
“Bluelight vehicle pricing is highly competitive, and we aim to offer best-in-class cost of ownership on every model, which means parts, servicing and maintenance and insurance,” says Jon Pollock. “We can offer extended service intervals without fear of compromising reliability, and our vehicles have been re-engineered following extensive crash testing to minimise the extent and cost of impact damage.”
Bluelight prices start from £8,610 for the Avensis 1.6GS and £12,116 for the RAV4 2.0 NV. The Colorado 3.0 D4D costs £19,386 and the Amazon 4.4 TDGX automatic £25,861 (all excl. VAT). A standard bluelight enhancement kit, including wiring looms for radio and lighting equipment, radio board and fixing of head restraints and rear centre armrests, costs only £695.