Plug-in Ford Transit custom hybrid introduces automatic electric mode to support cleaner city air


The new Ford Transit Custom plug-in hybrid now comes with the option of geofencing technology to help improve urban air quality.

Using live location data, the Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid Electric (PHEV) automatically switches to electric drive mode whenever entering predefined areas such as congestion and low‑emission zones.**

The geofencing tech need not only apply to city centres: vehicle operators can also create “green zones” to encourage low-emission driving near schools, playgrounds and warehouses. When the vehicle leaves a controlled zone, it automatically switches to the most appropriate drive mode for the next leg of the journey.

“Improving the quality of air – and quality of life – in our towns and cities is a goal that we all have a responsibility to drive towards,” said Mark Harvey, Ford’s European commercial vehicle mobility director.

“The Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid and its new geofencing feature helps our customers to make a real contribution to that goal without compromising on efficiency or productivity.”

Better air quality
Low-emission zones are increasingly common across Europe as a way for cities to better manage the environmental impact of vehicles in urban areas. In the first six months of the London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) – one of the most harmful pollutants from vehicles – were found to have been reduced by almost 30 per cent.

A recent study by Ford concluded that hybrid-electric vehicles could help improve urban air quality: 75 per cent of miles driven in central London by study participants – which included operators Addison Lee Group, British Gas, Heathrow Airport, the Metropolitan Police and Transport for London – were completed in the Transits’ zero-emission electric-only mode.

The geofence module in the Transit PHEV records information about electric-only operation within geofenced areas, referring to a virtual fence or perimeter around a physical location. The encrypted data can be shared with authorities to confirm compliance with low-emission zone regulations, avoiding the risk of wrongful fines and penalties.

Hybrid electric drive
The Transit Custom PHEV van and Tourneo Custom PHEV people mover are the first vehicles in their class to offer a hybrid-electric option. A 13.6 kWh battery helps to deliver a zero-emission NEDC driving range of up to 35 miles for the Transit Custom PHEV, and up to 33 miles in the Tourneo Custom PHEV. In both vehicles the onboard 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine can charge the battery on-demand to extend their range up to 343 and 317 miles combined respectively.

Both vehicles can be fully recharged in under four-and-a-half hours from a standard domestic mains supply, or in under three hours using commercial charging point. *** Further electrical energy is captured through regenerative braking when the vehicle decelerates or brakes.

Trials by Ford across Europe have shown how PHEVs offer a practical every-day solution for van owners and businesses working in the city, enabling them to complete longer journeys when required. As the vehicles aren’t reliant on charging infrastructure there is no range or charge anxiety, meaning they can deliver the best of both worlds: zero-emission driving capability with no compromise on getting the job done. There is no reduction in payload or load volume compared with a conventional diesel model.

55-year leadership
The first electrified Transit in Custom PHEV has gone on sale in the UK in the nameplate’s 55th year as top-selling van. Since gaining Plug-in Van Grant eligibility in the Spring, More than 500 orders have so far been received for the hybrid, driving total Transit sales since 1965 to over 3,100,000*. Ford’s continued electrification of its entire vehicle range includes existing mild-hybrid two-tonne Transit and Transit Custom powertrain choices, as well as the announcement of an all-electric Transit BEV.


*2019 ended on 3,066,087 sales of all current and previous Transit-badged vans in the UK since 1965, including Transit Connect (since 2002), Transit 2T and Transit Custom (since 2012) and Transit Courier (since 2014). In Jan-Jun 2020, an additional 33,122 Transit 2T, Transit Custom, Transit Connect and Transit Courier were sold, making total Transit sales to the end of June 3,099,209

** Geofencing module introduced from summer 2020 and will be available later in the year to retrofit to vehicles produced earlier. The vehicle will engage its electric drive mode when entering a geofence zone only if there is sufficient charge in the battery.

*** Fully charged from a standard 240-volt 10-amp mains supply in 4 hours 20 minutes, or in 2 hours 45 minutes using a commercial type-2 16-amp AC charger.

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