Ford will launch a test program of its new Transit Custom plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vans in London aimed at helping to improve the city's air quality. The multi-million pound project will launch this fall. It comes as the automaker accelerates its electrification plans with 13 new global electrified vehicles scheduled for introduction in the next five years (see http://articles.sae.org/15180/).
Featuring a 12-month trial of 20 new PHEV Transit Custom vans, the Transport for London-supported project is said to reduce local emissions using vans that run solely on electric power for the majority of city trips such as deliveries or maintenance work.
According to the announcement, commercial vehicles in London make 280,000 journeys on a typical weekday, traveling a total distance of 8 million mi (13 million km). Vans are said to represent 75% of peak freight traffic, with more than 7000 vehicles per hour driving at peak times in Central London alone.
For the initiative, Ford is providing 20 PHEV Transits to various commercial fleets across London, including Transport for London’s, to see how such vans can contribute to cleaner air targets while boosting productivity for operators in urban conditions. The project is financially supported by a £4.7m grant from the U.K. Government-funded Advanced Propulsion Centre.
“Teaming up with our London partners, we will also be able to trial software and telematics with enormous potential to reduce emissions and costs in the city,” said Jim Farley, Chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe, in a release. “This new type of partnership demonstrates our evolution to both an auto and mobility company.“
According to Ford, the Transit Custom PHEV vans are an advanced design that allows them to be grid-charged for zero-emission journeys, while a combustion engine provides extended range operation. Ford claims it is the first volume manufacturer to offer PHEV technology in this segment of the van market.
The vans are being designed and engineered at Ford’s Dunton, U.K., technical center, and at Prodrive Advanced Technology in Banbury, U.K, with program support from Revolve Technologies.
According to the automaker, the fleet trial is part of Ford’s commitment to work with major cities around the world to tackle their local transport challenges and help people and goods move more easily.