A year-long study into the effects of using electric commercial vehicles in London has revealed that hybrid powertrains could be the most practical solution of vehicle electrification for creating cleaner air in cities.
With vans representing 75% of peak freight traffic in London, businesses will have to look at the most effective solutions from both an environmental and monetary perspective. The trial was supported by £4.7m grant from the UK Government-funded Advanced Propulsion Centre and consisted of 20 Ford Transit Custom plug-in hybrid vans covering 150,000 miles over a 12-month period. The trial sought to test whether businesses could carry out the typical daily duties of their diesel-powered vehicles, while maximizing the use of zero-emissions electric-only mode.
The participants in the trial – Addison Lee Group, Autoglass, British Gas, Clancy Plant, DPD, Heathrow Airport, Interserve, Mears Group, the Metropolitan Police, Morrison Utility 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.
During the trial, 75% of the fleet’s mileage in Central London and 49% in Greater London was completed using pure electric power. The results highlight that even without a fully established electric vehicle charging network, the hybrid vans were able to dramatically reduce tailpipe emissions in the inner city, using the flexibility of a petrol range-extender to complete longer journeys when required.
“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, Urban Electrified Van program. “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, whilst not compromising on productivity.”
The findings from the trial also helped Ford develop its Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid production model that will go on sale to customers at the end of 2019, including the enhancement of its motor and driver communication to improve electric regeneration.
“This trial is the first time Ford has given such early prototype vehicles to customers, and we’ve been able to incorporate their feedback directly into the production van,” Harvey said.