18 Skoda Kodiaq family SUVs have become ambulances in one of the Czech brand's most dramatic specialist vehicle conversions.
The company supplied the vehicles to the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT), which will use them to ferry its clinical team to call-outs. The transformation from family 4x4 to ambulance service workhorse was made by Halls Electrical Ltd, which carried out a huge range of modifications.
Not only did the vehicles need blue lights and a new livery, but a team of engineers had to completely redesign the car's interior. The main 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system was moved to the passenger side to make way for a new screen that houses 999 call information, while two of the rear seats were stripped away.
In their place, Halls Electrical fitted a fire extinguisher and a combination safe for storing controlled drugs, while the 720-liter boot was completely re-designed. Fitted with a range of storage compartments, the boot will be used to house life-saving equipment.
Other modifications included additional power supplies, an auxiliary battery and the associated split charging system required to keep it topped up. There's also mains shoreline capability, allowing the car to plug into mains electricity.
Robin Gwinnett, the learning and development manager for South Western Ambulance Service, said the Kodiaq was chosen for the task for its interior space and the off-road capability provided by its four-wheel-drive system.
"We have chosen the Skoda Kodiaq as our operational officer vehicle because of the space available for the specialist and technical equipment required by this staff group," he said. "The vehicle offers the level of safety and comfort that our crews demand from operational vehicles. It blends excellent on-road handling characteristics with enough off-road performance for the majority of the situations our operations officers face on a daily basis."
Meanwhile, Rob Hughes, the technical director at Halls Electrical, said his company had turned the family SUV into a "cost-effective" vehicle for the ambulance service.
"Working closely with the fleet department and operational commanders from SWASFT, we have produced a compliant, cost-effective solution to fully meet the requirements of this wide-ranging and complex role," he said.
This is not the first time Skoda's vehicles have been enlisted for so-called "blue-light" duty. Ambulance services around the country have used Octavia estates, and the Kodiaq vRS was last year offered to police forces. Skoda is also offering blue-light services other vehicles in the range, such as the Superb.