The Ford transit minibus is the UK’s best-selling minibus. There are several reasons Castle recommends this vehicle to its customers, safety being the obvious one, but utility, comfort and price are also very important factors. It is also the ONLY minibus factory built for purpose (more about that later).
The new Euro 6 Ford Transit became available in September of last year (2019) and boasts a wide range of technologies, additional comforts and safety features. It is these features, beyond the safety aspect of the vehicle, that may make it more appealing to schools and certainly their passengers: a built-in modem for up to 4G Wi-Fi including live traffic updates sent directly to the navigation system and power sockets throughout to keep devices charged up and ready to go for the whole journey.
The Ford really has been designed with the education sector in mind, giving the vehicle extra protection as standard and make driving easier. The vehicle is highly maneuverable with a turning circle of only 11.9 meters, comes with a 12-year ant-perforation warranty and includes tough bodyside moldings to protect against accidental damage. Its rear bumper is also a multi-piece to help keep repair costs to a minimum and rear mud flaps are included to help protect paint work.
With these additional extras keeping your facilities managers and passengers happy, what of the additional safety features to protect your drivers and precious cargo out on the road.
Reverse, panoramic and blind spot technology
At Castle we go even further. As champions of minibus safety, we will always supply vehicles with additional safety features such as reversing cameras and parking sensors to help you avoid bollards and low walls but you can choose to have a tiny panoramic camera too so you can see vehicles, cyclists or pedestrians coming from either side in a split screen display.
RADAR sensors are also available to scan the blind spots on either side of the vehicle and if they detect a vehicle in your blind spot, an orange light is clearly displayed in the corresponding side door mirror to warn you of its presence.
Front passenger and side airbags
Airbags are fitted as standard but advanced sensors are also positioned at key points in the vehicle to ensure a swift and controlled response.
Adaptive Cruise Control
With Adaptive Cruise Control technology, you choose the speed you want to drive at, and the system will maintain it. If the built-in RADAR sensor detects a vehicle ahead, it will slow the van to maintain a pre-set distance. Once the road in front is clear, the system will accelerate to your chosen speed.
Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection
Radar and camera technology to scan the road ahead. If a collision risk with a vehicle, pedestrian or cyclist is detected, it will then provide you with a warning. If you do not respond in time, the system can automatically apply up to full braking force to help reduce the severity of, or even eliminate, some frontal collisions.
Automatic stabilisation in all weather conditions
Roads can be slippery when icy in frozen conditions; Electronic Stability Control constantly monitors your vehicle’s progress. When a vehicle is losing grip it automatically applies a braking pulse to individual wheels, stabilising it. Using advanced sensors from the anti-lock braking and Traction Control System it monitors the behaviour of the vehicle.
When a driver takes a curve too quickly and curve control can rapidly reduce engine torque – and apply brakes to individual wheels – to help keep the vehicle safely under control.
Protection from rolling over
Ford’s unique roll-rate sensor helps the Roll Stability Control System to keep the tyres grounded, specifically under conditions where there’s a high centre of gravity and when driving through off-camber turns.
Traction Control System
Eliminating excessive wheelspin and giving you the best possible grip, performance, and stability. The system constantly monitors and adjusts the power delivered to the vehicle’s individual wheels ensuring maximum contact and grip when you’re accelerating.
And there’s more
There are a whole range of other additional features to help keep your minibus fleet running smoothly including:
- Remote control central locking
- Anti-tamper door locks
- Tyre pressure monitoring systems
- A Thatcham Category 1 Alarm – sensitive to lifting/towing, forced entry, movement inside whilst locked
- Trailer sway control
- Choice of engines
- Ford EcoGuide to encourage you to drive more efficiently, reduce fuel consumption and save money over the life of the vehicle.
Castle Minibus only deal with two manufacturers of 17 seat minibuses Ford and Mercedes (you can read why in the next section) because of their commitment to minibus safety. Not all schools will request all the safety features available on the new Ford Euro 6 but even without the whistles and bells it is certainly one of the safest minibuses on the road, if not the safest.
What about the other minibus manufacturers?
At first glance there might seem like a wide choice of minibuses on the market: Ford, Mercedes, Citroen, Peugeot, Renault, Iveco and Vauxhall. But there are only one manufacturer currently producing 17-seater minibuses, as minibuses, in their factories, Ford. All other 17 seat minibuses leave the factory as vans and are then converted into minibuses. Whilst these vehicles are legal, some are converted without heavier safety features, such as side impact bars and/or more robust seats, to keep them under a GVW of 3,500kg. This is so they can be driven on a standard B car license. Castle Minibus, along with several County Councils, specialist solicitors and NASWUT do not consider a standard B car license sufficient for teachers to drive minibuses because of the Section 19 Permit condition of not driving for ‘reward or other consideration’. Castle encourage all schools to seek specialist advice on this issue before choosing to purchase a ‘light-weight’ vehicle, as the law is ambiguous and open to interpretation.
Need more help?
If you are looking for a new Ford minibus to lease for your school please call Castle Minibus on 01869 253744 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also sell used Ford minibuses or can offer you a rental for 12 months if required. We will talk you through all the safety considerations, compliance requirements and choices you have where vehicles are concerned.
We are Champions of Minibus Safety and it remains and will always be our number one priority – we are always happy to share our knowledge and advice with you so you can make an informed decision on your next vehicle.
Videos courtesy of Ford: www.ford.co.uk/shop/research/technology-cv/driving-experience