Ford is rolling out a one-year trial of 20 new plug-in hybrid Transit Custom vans to support London’s clean air targets.
The project is supported by Transport for London, which operates the local transport system. Ford said the trial fleet will operate in everyday use across a cross-section of city-based businesses. It’s scheduled to launch in the fall of this year.
The goal will be running the PHEV vans solely on electric power for most of the city trips such as deliveries and maintenance work. An efficient on-board internal combustion engine for extended range can kick in when longer trips are required.
Another key objective is exploring how these vans can contribute to cleaner air targets while increasing productive for fleet operations in this urban environment. London is known for having a tough, crowded environment for vans to navigate through.
The project is supported financially by the U.K. Government-funded Advanced Propulsion Centre.
The government has been implementing fines and restrictions to reduce congested traffic and air pollution in the city. After taking office last year, London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, had proposed higher taxes on polluting vehicles coming into a downtown “low emissions zone,” like diesel cars or older models.
“The freight sector’s transition to ultra-low emission vehicles is central to cleaning up London’s toxic air,” said Khan about the new trial project with Ford. “Transport for London continues to lead by example by increasing the number of its own vehicles that are electric and will find the data from these trials an invaluable resource for the LoCITY (program), which encourages the uptake of low emission commercial transport.”
Ford and Transport for London report that commercial vehicles operating in the city make 280,000 journeys on a typical weekday, travelling a total distance of eight million miles (13 million kilometers). Vans can represent 75 percent of peak freight traffic in London.
The automaker said that the fleet trial is part of Ford’s commitment to work with major cities around the world to tackle their local transport challenges. In London, the trial program will also be using a Ford telematics system to collect data on the vehicles’ financial, operational, and environmental performance. That will be used to help fleets understand how the benefits of electrified vehicles can be maximized, Ford said in the release.
The Transit Custom PHEV is just one of 13 new global electrified vehicles in Ford’s $4.5 billion investment that the company will be launching over the next five years. The plug-in hybrid van is planned for commercial introduction in 2019.
Ford said it was Europe’s No. 1 selling commercial vehicle brand for the second consecutive year in 2016.
“Ford is the No. 1 commercial vehicle brand in Europe and it’s now going electric. 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. “This new type of partnership demonstrates our evolution to both an auto and mobility company. We have lots of work to do, but everyone is so (energized) by this breakthrough opportunity.”