Twenty of the vehicles will be used in a 12-month fleet customer trial in London – dubbed the ‘Cleaner air for London’ trial – beginning later this year.
Scheduled for volume production in 2019, the Transit Custom PHEV’s hybrid system targets a zero-emission range exceeding 50km (31 miles), using the Ford EcoBoost 1.0-litre petrol engine to extend the range to 500km, or 310 miles.
Mark Harvey, director of the urban electrified van programme, Ford of Europe, says: “Seeing the PHEV Transits on the road is an exciting milestone, and we look forward to teaming up with our London partners and customers to explore how these vans can reduce emissions and operator costs in the city.”
The London trial will see TfL, Metropolitan Police and operators including British Gas, BSkyB, Addison Lee and Heathrow Airport all using one or more of the vans as part of their daily operations. The vehicles will be fitted with advanced telematics to enable real-time collection of data on their performance.
The vans will also feature geofencing technology, which can automatically modify vehicle settings based on each vehicle’s location. This could be used, for example, to ensure the hybrid system is switched to electric-only mode when a vehicle enters a low-emission zone.
TfL will be using data from the trial as part of its LoCity programme to encourage use of lower emission vehicles.
Ford is the first volume manufacturer to offer PHEV technology in this segment of the van market. The technology means the vehicle can be charged with mains electricity for zero-emission journeys, while the EcoBoost engine generates additional charge for the batteries when required. The Transit Custom PHEV uses a series-hybrid driveline configuration, with the vehicle’s wheels driven exclusively by an electric motor, rather than by the combustion engine.
The battery pack is a compact liquid-cooled lithium-ion design, located under the load floor – so the van has the same load volume as a standard Transit Custom.
The 20 trial vehicles are being built at Ford’s Dunton technical centre and at Prodrive Advanced Technology, in Banbury, with support from Revolve Technologies. The programme is backed by a £4.7m grant from the government’s Advanced Propulsion Centre.
The Transit Custom PHEV van is part of Ford’s global electrification commitment: the company says it will introduce 13 new electrified vehicles globally in the next five years.