Ford’s plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) Transit Custom is set to go on trial. For the first time, Ford can reveal how its game-changing powertrain works.
Ford’s PHEV Transit Custom made its dynamic debut at the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle 2017 event in Millbrook, England last month. Designed to run solely on electric power for the majority of city trips, details of its powertrain have been a closely guarded secret – up until now.
At Cenex, Ford announced that PHEV Transit Custom’s advanced hybrid system uses Ford’s award-winning EcoBoost 1.0-litre petrol engine as a range extender. The engine does not directly drive the wheels, instead it helps charge Transit’s on-board batteries on the go.
Ford is targeting a zero emission range of 31 miles from a full charge – more than enough for most city delivery rounds. If the operator needs to travel further in between charging stops, the EcoBoost engine chips in to top the batteries up.
Affordable and capable
Right now, Ford is preparing 20 PHEV Transits for a 12-month Cleaner Air for London fleet customer trial, which will explore how the hybrid electric vans can contribute to cleaner air targets and enhanced productivity in city use – the toughest working environment for vehicles.
Ford also has confirmed that volume production of the PHEV Transit Custom is scheduled to commence in 2019 as part of the company’s global promise to provide customers with affordable and capable electric vehicles.
“For more than 50 years businesses have relied on Ford Transits to get the job done, and we are determined to maintain that tradition as we move into the electric age,” said Mark Harvey, Director, urban electrified van programme, Ford of Europe. “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.”
Commercial vehicles in London make 280,000 journeys on a typical weekday, travelling a total distance of 8 million miles (13 million kilometres). Vans represent 75 per cent of peak freight traffic, with more than 7,000 vehicles per hour driving at peak times in Central London alone.
“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 programme that encourages commercial businesses to use greener vehicles,” said Lilli Matson, Transport for London’s Director of Transport Strategy.
The London fleet trial project is supported by Transport for London, and features a cross-section of city-based businesses, including Metropolitan Police, that will integrate the vans into their day-to-day operations. To help understand how the benefits of electrified vehicles could be maximised, the 20 PHEV Transits will use an advanced telematics system to collect real-time data on the vans’ performance.
In addition, the vehicles will feature geofencing technology, which is capable of automatically modifying vehicle settings based on each van’s current location. This could be used, for example, to ensure the hybrid system is switched to electric-only mode when a vehicle enters a low-emission zone within an inner-city area.
Ford is the first volume manufacturer to offer PHEV technology in this segment of the van market. The technology enables the vehicle to be charged with mains electricity for zero-emission journeys, while the compact and fuel-efficient EcoBoost engine generates additional charge for the batteries when required. The Transit Custom PHEV uses a series-hybrid driveline configuration, with the vehicle’s wheels driven exclusively by an electric motor, rather than by the combustion engine.
The battery pack is a compact liquid cooled lithium-ion design located under the load floor, preserving the full cargo volume offered by the standard Transit Custom van.
The PHEV approach provides city-based commercial vehicle operators with a range of benefits. In addition to the zero-emission capability of a targeted 31 miles, the Transit Custom PHEV uses petrol fuel for a target total range of more than 500 kilometres (310 miles) to eliminate range anxiety. The PHEV also has an increased payload capacity compared to battery-only electric vehicles, and the ability to offer quick and easy recharging from a standard electricity supply.
Full cargo volume
Development of the 20 Transit Custom fleet trial vehicles has been supported by a £4.7 million grant from the U.K. Government-funded Advanced Propulsion Centre. The vans are being designed and engineered at Ford’s Dunton technical centre, and at Prodrive Advanced Technology in Banbury, U.K., with programme support from Revolve Technologies.
Ford was Europe’s No.1 selling commercial vehicle brand in 2015 and 2016, and this year has strengthened its position with a 13.3 per cent share in July year-to-date. The Transit Custom PHEV van is part of Ford’s global electrification commitment. The automaker and mobility company has invested $4.5 billion to make electric vehicles that offer customers more capability, productivity and performance. Ford plans to introduce 13 new electrified vehicles globally in the next five years, including an all-electric small SUV to be sold in Europe, North America and Asia.
Ford also recently announced an ambitious China electrification strategy and confirmed that 70 per cent of all Ford vehicles sold in China will have electrified powertrain options by 2025. In August, Ford signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Anhui Zotye Automobile Co., Ltd., a major manufacturer of zero-emission all-electric vehicles in China, to explore the launch of a new line of all-electric vehicles in the world’s largest auto market.
In addition, Ford is undertaking a joint project with Deutsche Post DHL Group to produce electric delivery vans (e-vans), becoming Europe’s largest manufacturer of medium-sized e-vans with 2,500 vehicles built by the end of 2018. The StreetScooter WORK XL is based on a Ford Transit chassis fitted with a battery-electric drivetrain and a body designed and built to Deutsche Post DHL specifications. High voltage cable Battery Fuel tank Electric motor Charging point Generator.