Earlier in the year Ford announced that it was conducting a year-long trial of 20 PHEV Transit Custom vans in partnership with Transport for London.
Ford are set to provide 20 PHEV Transit Customs to companies who work within the capital to measure their impact on emissions and to see how well they perform in urban conditions which are notably the toughest working conditions for vehicles.
The Ford PHEV Transit Custom is currently still in development but is predicted to have a pure electric range of around 31 miles and is just one of the 13 new electrified vehicles that Ford plans to launch in the next five years.
The participants picked out by Transport for London includes their own fleet and a range of companies that reflect the different uses of commercial vehicles in London, which could include couriers, tradesman and emergency services. The names of fleet partners are expected to be announced within the next two months, ready for the trial to launch in the autumn.
The focus will be on two key challenges – whole life costs and usability.
Hoare said: “The aim is to try to reduce the complexity of the configuration and look at developing the technology so it delivers a seamless alternative to today’s powertrains.
“Also, it is a cost-sensitive market, so whole life costs must be credible. If they are not affordable, vans won’t be ordered. We need to make vehicles more efficient, but affordable.”
Simplicity will also be a key factor when it comes to recharging, with Ford determined that fleets will be able to use a standard power supply, instead of having to invest in new charging bays and facilities.
Hoare added: “Charging is very important because we don’t want to have customers overhauling their facilities. We want to make sure this is transferable without an infrastructure burden.”
The trial is intended to provide an insight into van usage patterns in different business environments and how this affects demand on the battery.
This will also help refine the final van’s electric-only range, which has to be a careful balance between maximising zero-emission travel and keeping battery size to a minimum to maintain useable payload in the van.