Ford showcased its Transit Custom plug-in hybrid van in England as it launches fleet customers on a one-year trial in London.

During the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle 2017 event in Millbrook this week, visitors learned more about how fleets will be using the Transit Custom PHEV to meet cleaner air targets and increase productivity during urban day trips. Ford is getting 20 of these vehicles prepared for the 12-month trial that begins in late 2017.

The Ford Transit Custom PHEV uses an advanced pure series hybrid system offering 50 kilometers (31 miles) of battery-only range. A 1.0-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine is coupled with an electric motor for a total range of 500 km (310 miles).

The van’s battery pack is a compact liquid-cooled lithium-ion design. Ford engineers were able to locate the battery pack under the load floor, preserving the full cargo volume.

The EcoBoost engine is able to charge the van’s on-board batteries when longer trips are required between charging points. The Transit Custom PHEV also offers an increased payload capacity compared to battery electric vehicles.

Ford sees the battery providing all of the power for the majority of city trips that fleets typically take. Other benefits being sold include enhanced productivity in a tough working environment for the vehicles, and the ability to tap into recharging from a standard electricity supply.

“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,” said Mark Harvey, Director, urban electrified van program, Ford of Europe.

Several city-based businesses are participating in the test project, which is supported by the Transport for London agency. The Metropolitan Police will also be participating.

Participating fleets will use an advanced telematics system that will collect real-time data on the PHEV vans’ performance. The technology includes geofencing capable of automatically modifying vehicle settings based on each van’s current location. It can be used to switch over the vans to battery power as they enter one of London’s low-emission zones.

“Cleaner vans, like those being used in this trial, will be vital in helping the freight and fleet sector to reduce the emissions and play its part in tackling the Capital’s air quality crisis. We are also using the data from the trial, which will be an invaluable resource for our LoCITY program that encourages commercial businesses to use greener vehicles,” said Lilli Matson, Transport for London’s director of transport strategy.

The plug-in hybrid van is scheduled for volume production in 2019. It’s part of Ford’s grand scheme of electrifying its fleet across the world in the near future.

SEE ALSO:  Ford Transit Connect Hybrid Taxi Prototype To Debut In Detroit

In the U.S., a Ford Transit Connect Hybrid taxi prototype was displayed in January at the Detroit auto show. The Detroit automaker arranged a fleet of 20 Transit Connect hybrid taxis to be tested in major U.S. cities this year.

The Transit Custom model is being sold in the European market. It’s been fitted in size between the smaller Transit Connect and the full-size Transit.