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

Using live location data, the 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: 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 stage of its trip.

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%.

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.

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By GlobalData

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

Ford claims the Transit Custom PHEV van and Tourneo Custom people mover models are the first in their class to offer a hybrid-electric option.

A 13.6kWh battery helps to deliver a zero-emission NEDC driving range of up to 35 miles for the Transit and up to 33 in the Tourneo.

In both vehicles the one-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 a commercial charging point. Further electrical energy is captured through regenerative braking.

Trials by Ford across Europe have shown how PHEVs offer a practical 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.

Since gaining UK government plug-in van grant eligibility last spring over 500 orders have been placed for the hybrid.

 Ford’s 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.