Ford has published the results of its London fleet tests, in which a total of 20 Ford pre-series vehicles with plug-in hybrid drives were used by various companies.
In the field test in London, the electrified fleet covered more than 240,000 kilometres. According to Ford, 75 per cent of the routes in downtown London were completed in electric mode by the Ford Transit Custom PHEV. For journeys in Greater London, the proportion of electric vehicles is said to have been 49 per cent. However, the drivers were also required to use the electric mode as often as possible.
In the study – which was supported by a grant of 4.7 million pounds from the British government-funded Advanced Propulsion Centre – companies such as Heathrow Airport, Vodafone, Sky, the Royal Mail, British Gas, but also the Transport of London and the Metropolitan Police integrated the PHEV transporters into their fleets. The results after one year of operation suggest, Ford says, that plug-in hybrid commercial vehicles can be a practical option for companies when it comes to achieving air pollution control goals.
“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,” said Mark Harvey, director of Ford’s Urban Electrified Van Programme. “We also know that businesses still have legitimate concerns about the range of fully-electric vehicles, as well as their cost-effectiveness and reliability.”
The converted vans were not designed as conventional PHEVs, but as range extenders. According to Ford, the results show that plug-in hybrid commercial vehicles significantly reduce emissions in the city centre even without a comprehensive charging infrastructure, with the petrol engine only being used for longer journeys.
In order to dispel the concerns of the companies, Ford intends to incorporate the findings from the fleet test into the development of the PHEV series models. The Transit Custom and smaller Turneo Custom are due to be launched at the end of 2019. Improvements include optimized engine performance and revised displays to better guide drivers how to maximize recuperation.