Ford has announced a new range of protection shields that can be quickly and easily fitted to a wide selection of the company’s commercial vehicles, designed to help operators meet social distancing requirements and deliver additional peace of mind for occupants.
Designed with operations including school buses, patient transfer, accessible transport and taxi services in mind, the shields are intended to supplement operators’ existing personal protective equipment (PPE) and hygiene protocols – and can be fitted in configurations to suit individual applications.
As part of the official Ford Accessories range, customers will soon be able to order the shields – which have passed Ford’s rigorous safety, quality and durability testing – through Ford dealers as well as via the Ford Online Shop in selected markets.
“Commercial vehicle operators have faced unprecedented challenges in 2020 and are adapting to new norms as they continue to provide their vital services to our communities and economy,” said Owen Gregory, Director, Commercial Vehicle Aftersales, Ford of Europe. “Our new protection shields provide additional support to our customers as they continue to operate in challenging circumstances, offering drivers and passengers additional peace of mind as they work and travel.”
The impermeable shields are made of transparent polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic with integrated straps for simple installation, and can be sanitised as part of operators’ interior disinfecting procedures.
Removable suction cups attach to the window interiors to provide unobtrusive fixing points for the straps, which also attach to existing fittings in the cabin. Customers can quickly and easily fit, adjust and remove shields without requiring interior modifications, and the design allows the shields to pack down flat for storage.
Once installed, the shields do not restrict passenger comfort, interior space or operation of the heating and ventilation systems. The transparent PVC material also allows the driver to retain full visibility of the windscreen, side windows and mirrors, and passengers can still hear and see each other as normal.
The shields can be fitted to offer four separate configurations, splitting cabins from front to rear and from left to right as desired, to provide the ideal configuration for each operators’ requirements. Fitting locations are:
· Between driver and front passenger seats
· Behind front seats to partition from the rest of the cabin
· Between driver and front passenger and behind front seats
· Between and behind driver and front passenger, and between second row seats
In addition, the shields and mounting points have been carefully designed to maintain safety for occupants. Lightweight, flexible materials with secure mountings are designed to prevent injury in the event of an accident, and mounting points and strap positions enable normal deployment of side and curtain airbags.
Initial availability is for Transit vans and people movers, Transit Custom and Tourneo Custom, with shields for Transit / Tourneo Connect, and Transit / Tourneo Courier following later this year. Ford Accessories offers a range of storage, protection and security enhancements backed by a Ford warranty to best equip vehicles for customers’ specific needs.
In addition, Ford is researching advanced solutions for partitioning cabin interiors, which could also help improve fuel and energy efficiency for future vehicles. The company has recently patented a system that can deploy automated, deformable walls in multiple configurations within the cabin to enable temperature control within specific areas for more efficient energy use.