FORD is aiming to electrify the light van market with a new battery - hybrid powered version of the market-leading Transit Custom which the company claims will be the first vehicle of its type in its segment of the van market.
The Transit PHEV could bring about a revolution in the local delivery market with its zero-emission driving range of 30 miles combined with an extended range of over 300 miles using electric power combined with a one litre petrol engine.
It's been under development for some time but has now been revealed in final production form at the IAA Commercial Vehicle show in Hannover, Germany.
The Transit Custom PHEV features an advanced hybrid powertrain system that uses a compact 14 kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack in conjunction with a one-litre petrol engine as a range extender which generates additional charge for the batteries when required.
The vehicle uses a series-hybrid driveline configuration, the front wheels being driven exclusively by an electric motor, rather than by the combustion engine. The motor is located under the load floor and has been positioned to preserve the full cargo volume offered by the standard Transit Custom van, and a payload exceeding 1,000kg.
Although it's not due to go into series production until the second half of next year a fleet of prototypes is already undergoing a 12-month trial with real-world customers in London, covering in excess of 30,000 miles to date.
"The Transit Custom PHEV re-writes the rule book for a general purpose 1-tonne van, providing a versatile performer with zero-emission capability," says Ian Porter, chief programme engineer, Transit Custom, Ford of Europe. "Transit Custom PHEV demands no compromises, offering the same load capacity as a diesel van, and the freedom to complete long-distance journeys without the need to stop for a charge."
Ford has also announced major enhancements to the Transit Custom line-up, including an upgraded two-litre diesel engine with a more powerful 185PS variant, a segment-first diesel mild hybrid powertrain option, and advanced new connectivity and driver assistance features.