Ford trials new plug-in hybrid electric vans to help improve London’s air quality


Ford is launching a multimillion-pound project designed to help improve air quality in London, as the auto maker accelerates its electrification plans with 13 new global electrified vehicle models scheduled for introduction in the next five years.

The project, supported by Transport for London (TfL), features a 12-month trial of 20 new plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Ford Transit Custom vans that reduce local emissions by running solely on electric power for the majority of city trips, such as deliveries and maintenance work. Scheduled to launch this autumn, the project is part of Ford’s commitment to work with major cities around the world to tackle local transportation challenges, in order to help people and goods move freely. Commercial vehicles in London make 280,000 trips on a typical weekday, traveling a total of 8 million miles (12.8m km). Vans currently represent 75% of the city’s peak commercial traffic, with more than 7,000 vehicles an hour on the road in central London alone.

Ford will provide 20 PHEV Transit vehicles to a range of commercial fleets across London, including TfL’s fleet, in order to explore how they can contribute to cleaner air targets, while boosting operator productivity in urban conditions. The project is supported financially by the UK government-funded Advanced Propulsion Center, which is providing a £4.7m (US$5.8m) grant. The Transit plug-in hybrid vans in the London trial are an advanced design that allows the vehicles to be charged with electricity for zero-emission trips, while featuring an efficient onboard combustion engine for extended range when longer trips are required.

The fleet will operate across a cross-section of city-based businesses day-to-day. A Ford telematics system will collect data on the vehicle’s financial, operational and environmental performance to help understand how the benefits of electrified vehicles can be optimized. Data and feedback from the trials will be shared with the LoCITY program, an industry-led initiative developed by TfL to improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions by lowering the impact of commercial vehicles on the environment. The vans are being designed and engineered at Ford’s technical center in Dunton and at Prodrive Advanced Technology in Banbury, with support from Revolve Technologies.

“The freight sector’s transition to ultra-low emission vehicles is central to cleaning up London’s toxic air,” said Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. “Transport for London continues to lead by example by increasing the number of its own vehicles that are electric and will find the data from these trials an invaluable resource for the LoCITY program, which encourages the uptake of low-emission commercial transport.”

Jim Farley, chairman and CEO at Ford of Europe, commented, “Teaming up with our London partners, we will be able to trial software and telematics with enormous potential to reduce emissions and costs in the city. 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 energized by this breakthrough opportunity.”

Share this story:

About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).