DUNTON, England - Ford's Commercial Vehicle Conversion and Product Development teams have developed a unique specification Transit to meet the needs of parcel delivery firm DHL.
The Transit L4 H3 Jumbo boasts a raft of tailored features, as Ford vies to become the market leading supplier of vans to the courier services industry.
For several years, the UK arm of DHL has primarily used donor vehicles from a competitor brand for its last-mile delivery vans. The Blue Oval did not figure in DHL's UK fleet business as its vans did not meet the company’s key specs for donor vehicles.
But 12 months ago, the Ford of Britain Fleet team decided to take the initiative, working with DHL to deliver a turn-key solution specially developed to meet the firm's needs.
Manufacturers typically provide donor vehicles, with converters completing the required modifications, but in a bid to win over DHL, Ford committed to delivering a fully converted vehicle as a finished package.
Ford invested in an intensive six-month engineering and design process, creating a pair of demo Jumbos to be trialled by DHL at London's Heathrow Airport and in the Dunton area. The vehicles feature a comprehensive specification including telematics, racking, a walk-through bulkhead, jump-seat and fixing structures in the cargo area, all delivered without any compromise to safety standards.
The customer is said to be "delighted" with the results, creating an opportunity for Ford to win back business from competition and potentially supply several hundred units to DHL.
Barry Quested, Conversion team, CV Sales, Marketing and Services, FoE, said: “Together with the Ford of Britain Fleet team, we had a lot of discussions with DHL to identify their exact requirements. We then worked together with the SVE Team lead by Barry Saunders and the converter Modul System to design the vehicles accordingly."
He added: "To have a tailor-made model catering for the needs of one customer is very rare in this industry, as other OEMs typically only provide donor vehicles to upfitters and converters.
"The project was based on an amazing business growth mindset and was delivered through real team work. The Ford Britain Fleet team used its relationship with the DHL fleet customer, based on former Transit fleet deals, but also the current passenger vehicle fleet business relationship.
"The Conversion team, CV Sales and Marketing and Services, Ford of Europe, developed the business case, while the SVE team supervised the conversion engineering.
"At the final stage, the two Transit vans were built by the Kocaeli team and then taken for conversion with all the necessary uplifts."
James Griffiths, National Fleet account manager, Ford of Britain, said: “When we handed the two vehicles over to DHL they were in use within an hour, which shows how they met the customer’s requirements. We are now optimistic that we can break the mould and re-establish Transit in the parcel delivery sector. And as such, we can be optimistic to be competitive in future tenders. DHL will have a requirement of about 400 vehicles per year - if we can get part of that, we will be entering a part of the market where we have lost ground in recent years."