Interserve and Mears in clean air hybrid van trial

9 July 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

Interserve and Mears were among businesses to take part in a year-long trial organised by Ford that suggests plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) commercial vehicles could help construction businesses trying to meet clean-air targets in cities.

The trial – which was supported by £4.7m grant from the government-funded Advanced Propulsion Centre – consisted of 20 Ford Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid vans covering 240,000 km (150,000 miles) over a 12-month period in London.

It aimed to test whether businesses could carry out the typical daily duties of their diesel-powered vehicles, while maximising the use of zero-emissions electric-only mode.

Other companies involved included: Addison Lee Group, Autoglass, British Gas, Clancy Plant, DPD, Heathrow Airport, the Metropolitan Police, Morrison Utility Services, RNLI, Royal Mail, Speedy Hire, Sky, Transport for London and Vodafone.

During the trial, Ford found that 75% of the fleet’s mileage in central London and 49% in greater London was completed using pure electric power. It claimed that this showed that even without a fully established electric vehicle charging network, the hybrid vans were able to dramatically reduce exhaust emissions in the inner city, using the flexibility of a petrol range-extender to complete longer journeys when required.

Mark Harvey, director of Ford’s Urban Electrified Van programme, said: “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. 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.”

Ford recently announced that a new all-electric Ford Transit will join the company’s European line-up of electrified commercial vehicles in 2021. Further trials are now due in Cologne and Valencia. 

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