Twenty Transit Custom plug-in hybrid vans will be tested by Ford Motor Co. in a yearlong project. To do this, the automaker is joining hands with the city officials in London. The automaker also hinted at extending the test to other European cities at a later date but there is no official confirmation of the same yet.
"Teaming up with our London partners, we will also be able to trial software and telematics with enormous potential to reduce emissions and costs in the city," said Jim Farley, chairman and CEO, Ford (Europe.) "This new type of partnership demonstrates our evolution to both an auto and mobility company. We have lots of work to do, but everyone is so energized by this breakthrough opportunity."
The chief motive of the pilot program that will take place for a 12-month period aims at reducing emissions caused by commercial vehicles in London. Statistically, vehicles such as this make close to 280,000 trips per day. This will give us a total of 8 million miles. It is estimated that vans contribute to 75 percent of peak freight traffic, reported Auto News.
Ford stated that during the test phase, the vans will get a pure electric range of about 31 miles. Also, during their city-based trips, they will operate on electric power. The vehicles will change to the combustion engine if they will take up trips which are outside the city and relatively longer, reported Motor Trend.
Apart from the Transport of London, Ford will provide the vans to many other commercial fleet groups during the period of the study. The whole program is funded by the U.K. government-funded Advanced Propulsion Center at about $5.8 million (£4.7 million.)
Not so long ago, Ford had officially announced that the plug-in vans were a part of a $4.5 billion investment in electrified vehicles by the company. This investment strategy will ensure Ford, by 2021, will see the addition of 13 new products in its portfolio.
At the same time, automakers Ford, BMW Group, Daimler AG and Volkswagen Group have joined hands together to make high-powered charging network along major highways in Europe. The aim of the group is to install charging stations at about 400 sites in Europe.
The 20 Transit Customs prototype vehicles that are going to be tested will be manufactured at the technical center of Ford located at Dunton, U.K. The vans will be available in Europe for commercial purchase by 2019. The company has no plans to capture the U.S. market.