Ford is to supply 200 Ranger Double-cab 4x4 models to Telecoms giant, T-Mobile, to replace its entire light-commercial fleet.

The deal, one of the biggest-ever European fleet contracts involving the Ford Ranger, follows an exhaustive 12-month review during which all the company's field technicians were consulted in a series of open surveys. Their priority was full off-road capability to allow easy access to often-trackless areas for servicing ground installations - but they also wanted a comfortable, safe four-seater for on-road use whether on business or at weekends.

T-Mobile International is one of the world's leading companies in mobile communications. As one of Deutsche Telekom`s three strategic business units, T-Mobile concentrates on the most dynamic markets in Europe and the USA.

In the second quarter of 2005, some 80 million customers were served in nine T-Mobile markets, over a common technology platform based on GSM, the world's most successful digital wireless standard. This also makes T-Mobile the only mobile communications provider with a seamless transatlantic service.

The Ranger was eventually decided on by a T-Mobile working party working to five guiding principles - a vehicle that was fit for purpose; a fair and reasonable scheme for the drivers; no compromise on health and safety; ability to transfer vehicles between staff; and keeping within an agreed budget.

The drivers' top priorities included off-road capability, four seats, comfort, safety, accessible loadspace, air-conditioning, reliability, security and visibility. With off-road capability, there was particular concern to ensure adequate ground clearance, as well as availability of off-road tyres where required and selectable 2/4WD.

Contract-hire company Velo came up with a list of suitable vehicles which was reduced to seven contenders that fell within budget, including two Mitsubishis, two Nissans and two Isuzus besides the Ford Ranger.

The management team supporting the working party made certain that there was full employee engagement in the process. "Following the initial consultations, we got as many people as possible involved in the test-drive days," stated the team. "Once we had shortlisted the Ford Ranger, drivers were allowed to have the vehicles a bit longer and get to know them better. Now the first of the vehicles have been delivered, and they've been really well received."

T-Mobile's field-based technicians operate autonomously throughout Britain. Those in urban areas average 25,000 miles a year, while those covering rural areas may do more than twice that mileage. Replacement cycles are four years or 100,000 miles, so vehicles are expected to be swapped between high- and low-mileage drivers at a later stage to equalise mileages.

The Ford Ranger Double-Cab is powered by a 2.5-litre Duratorq TD 109ps diesel engine and has five-speed manual transmission and a gross payload of 1135kg. Both driver and passenger front airbags are standard. The T-Mobile Rangers are all fitted with Truckman Tops and finished in silver. Other extras include rear towbars and reverse parking sensors.

"This is a very important contract for Ford Fleet," said Ford's Director of Fleet Operations Kevin Griffin. "It's gratifying that the Ranger Double-Cab should emerge as the vehicle of choice after such a comprehensive review as T-Mobile has undertaken, as it demonstrates the good balance it strikes between rugged, reliable off-roader and appealing leisure vehicle. We're looking forward to working with T-Mobile."

Published : 24/10/05 Author : Melanie Carter

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