Plug-in hybrid vans offer clean air solution for cities, study suggests

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Three-quarters of all mileage travelled by vans in Central London could be done using the fully-electric range of a plug-in hybrid van, a trial suggests.

The 12-month initiative, which was supported by a £4.7 million grant from the Government-funded Advanced Propulsion Centre, saw businesses use 20 Ford Transit Custom Plug-in Hybrid vans - with have electric-only range of up to 31 miles - to cover 150,000 miles.

It sought to test whether businesses could carry out the typical duties of a diesel vehicle while maximising the zero emissions electric-only mode offered by a PHEV.

The initiative found 75% of the fleet’s mileage in Central London and 49% in Greater London was completed using pure electric power.

Mark Harvey, director of Urban Electrified Van programme at Ford, said: “Emissions-free mobility is essential for the future of our cities and their citizens, but we know there are still barriers we face in the move to electrification.

“We also know that businesses still have legitimate concerns about the range of fully-electric vehicles, as well as their cost-effectiveness and reliability.

“These trials have helped Ford and its customers to investigate the extent to which PHEVs can help to achieve urban air quality goals, while not compromising on productivity.”

The participants in the trial – Addison Lee Group, Autoglass, British Gas, Clancy Plant, DPD, Heathrow Airport, Interserve, Mears Group, the Metropolitan Police, M Group Services, RNLI, Royal Mail, Speedy Hire, Sky, Transport for London and Vodafone – represented a cross-section of city-based businesses, and integrated the Ford Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid vans into their day-to-day operations. 

Ford has already incorporated learnings from the trial of prototype vehicles to optimise the Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid production model that will go on sale to customers at the end of 2019. Enhancements include increased motor performance, optimised operating strategies, and revised displays to educate drivers in achieving maximum electric regeneration.

Further trials will take place in Cologne and Valencia to provide data from different markets, cities and customer types, and will involve a mix of Transit Custom Plug-in Hybrid vans and new Tourneo Custom Plug-in Hybrid people movers.

The new vehicles target a zero-emission driving range of 31 miles, and use a 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine as a range extender for total range exceeding 310 miles.

Ford recently announced that a new all-electric Ford Transit will join the company’s European line-up of electrified commercial vehicles in 2021.

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