Ford is moving with the times with its iconic Transit van. Businesses and organisations trialing the new PHEV (plug-in hybrid) model have given it the thumbs up.
Participants included Addison Lee Group, Autoglass, British Gas, DPD, Heathrow Airport, the Metropolitan Police, Royal Mail, Sky, Transport for London and Vodafone. Each organisation ran one of the 20 vans for 12 months.
Some of the figures from the trial are interesting. The vans covered 150,000 miles over the course of the year, with 75 percent of the driving in Central London completed in EV mode. Likewise, 49 percent of the driving in Greater London was done in full EV mode.
Cleaning up London’s commercial vehicles
If PHEV and EV vans like the Transit proliferate, it will go some way to cleaning up the eight million miles of driving covered by commercial vehicles in London every day. It’s thought around 7,000 vans are driving every hour during peak times in Central London. If three-quarters of that driving can be electric-only modes like the Transit PHEV can achieve, London’s air quality should improve.
A production version of the plug-in hybrid Transit will appear towards the end of the year. Ford’s learnings from the 12-month trial run are being used to refine the production model right now.
“We also know that businesses still have legitimate concerns about the range of fully-electric vehicles, as well as their cost-effectiveness and reliability,” said Mark Harvey, director of the urban electrified van programme.
“These trials have helped Ford and its customers to investigate the extent to which PHEVs can help to achieve urban air quality goals, whilst not compromising on productivity.”
Ford Transit PHEV, and a Transit EV on the way
The PHEV has a target zero-emission range of 31 miles. The electric motor is helped by a 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, with a total system range exceeding 310 miles. Ford says the battery under the floor doesn’t compromise load space.
The PHEV is just the beginning for electrified Transit vans. An all-electric version is due to join the lineup in 2021.
“This trial is the first time Ford has given such early prototype vehicles to customers, and we’ve been able to incorporate their feedback directly into the production van,” Harvey continued.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive – operators don’t want to give them back.”