Fuel economy is becoming a valuable marketing tool for van manufacturers. Fleet operators running company cars will be well aware of the Econetic, Bluemotion and Ecoflex labels among others, knowing that car manufacturers use these badges for the most efficient models in the range.
The terminology has also crept into the van market as manufacturers also have targets to cut average CO2 emissions, and a few months after the new Ford Transit Custom arrived on the market, an Econetic version has appeared.
Using a 100bhp version of the 2.2-litre TDCi engine, the Custom Econetic offers significant improvements in fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions compared with its predecessor, so could be a more desirable choice in the range for fleets wanting to minimise fuel spend or to comply with any overall environmental policy that takes into account vehicle emissions.
For its part, the Transit Custom Econetic probably offers the most sophisticated off-the-shelf fuel-saving features of any conventional van.
As standard, it comes with Acceleration Control, an innovative new technology that limits the acceleration to levels achievable when the vehicle is fully laden (with a maximum payload of 1,295kg in this particular model), enabling significant fuel savings when the vehicle is unladen or part-laden.
Ford says field tests show this system can reduce real-world fuel consumption by 4% to 15% and cut wear and tear on brakes, tyres and other components.
The Econetic model also offers standard stop-start that, according to Ford, can reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 10% in urban driving.
Additional fuel-saving features include a switchable 70mph speed limiter (disabled by pressing the Eco button on the dashboard although it is always activated by default on start-up), unique engine calibration, a coolant bypass valve for quicker warm-up, optimised gearing with a 6% longer final drive ratio, low rolling resistance tyres and aerodynamic wheel trims.
Customers can also specify fixed speed limiters for speeds of 56mph, 62mph and 70mph to suit their own operating requirements as an optional feature.
But Econetic isn’t the only low-CO2 technology offered on the van market, so we need to investigate what makes the Transit so special.