A fleet of 500 Renault Master vans converted for use as Covid-19 mobile testing units has been taken on by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
The vehicles were ordered via Crown Commercial Services, and financed by Leaseplan UK, which worked with converter TGS to develop a bespoke conversion.
The new Masters replace and nearly double DHSC’s previous 258-vehicle fleet, and also each have twice the daily capacity of the outgoing vans, able to store 1,000 test kits each rather than 500.
The conversion design features twin awnings with layouts to accommodate drive-through testing and staff welfare areas, pedestrian testing bays, onboard heating, hot water and hand-washing facilities, a generator for additional power, charging and electrical access points, and extra lighting.
Renault UK won the initial tender for the vehicles after demonstrating its manufacturing capacity, and the supply contract was awarded to Leaseplan following success in an initial tender for consultancy work to create a single, viable conversion, which Leaseplan delivered pro bono.
TGS was chosen for the conversion of all 500 vehicles after completing the pre-order concept and for having the ability to deliver the order within a three-month timeframe.
Renault UK managing director Vincent Tourette said: “We are exceptionally pleased that the Renault Master is playing a part in helping the DHSC to continue its invaluable work in controlling the spread of Covid and further enhance the size of what is the largest network of diagnostic testing facilities in British history.
“Being able to provide such a substantial number of base vehicles in such a short timeframe presented a significant challenge, but it’s something that we and our factory were proud to overcome.
“It’s very rewarding to see the Renault Master mobile testing units in service on the frontline and contributing to the UK’s fight against Covid.”
Leaseplan UK managing director Alfonso Martinez said: “Making sure that vital vehicles remain on the road has been a priority for us throughout the pandemic, and the involvement we’ve had with this tender has been no different.
“Our remit has spanned initial conversion concepts and vehicle supply, to ongoing training, and a full-service, rapid-response maintenance and repair program should the vehicles need it.
“We’re delighted to play our part in ensuring the DHSC has all it needs to continue the great work it’s doing in keeping people safe, protected and constantly tested, as part of the wider effort in combatting this virus.”
TGS UK Glenn Smith said: “We are very pleased that we have had the opportunity to play a vital part in supporting DHSC in their heroic effort to suppress the spread of Covid by converting these mobile testing units.
“Fellow director Nathan Smith and I worked closely with DHSC and Leaseplan to develop the initial design concepts within a very short timeframe, through to delivering the completed vehicles to the testing sites, fully stocked and ready to work.
“Our industry expertise and dedication has resulted in us delivering this 500-strong fleet at a speed that is unprecedented and which many believed was unachievable.”