Electric delivery vans are very expensive and heavy, aren’t they? Ford has a better idea and introduces a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variant of the Ford Transit Custom. What are the pros and cons? AutoRAI.nl will find out.
EV delivery truck
Meet the Ford Transit Custom PHEV. The idea behind this plug-in hybrid is simple: in the front is a 127 hp electric motor – which drives the front wheels – and under the cargo area is a 13.6 kWh battery pack.
Thanks to the electric powertrain, you no longer have to take environmental zones into account, because you emit exactly 0 grams of CO2. So you can drive into the city center with this bus without any problems, for example to deliver your packages. But you will now wonder how far you can get with a battery pack that is only 13.6 kWh in size.
Range Ford Transit Custom PHEV
The answer is simple: not terribly far. The power runs out after about 40 kilometers. And now? Looking for a socket? None of that. In the front is a second engine: a three-cylinder petrol engine. Not to drive the wheels, but to charge the battery pack.
So the 1.0-litre turbo engine is actually a generator. Because it does not provide direct drive – and therefore does not have to regularly rev up during acceleration – the engine can run at an efficient speed to ensure that the battery pack is properly charged.
Cost Ford Transit Custom PHEV
It is a special combination: a delivery van without a diesel engine, but with a petrol engine, electric motor and a battery pack that is recharged by the petrol engine or via a charging station (plug-in). It makes for a few pros and cons.
For example, the Ford Transit Custom PHEV is not cheap, it is available from 41,250 euros. But should you compare it with a traditional diesel bus? Companies that have employees working in the inner city face low-emission zones on a daily basis. And those zones will never get smaller and only expand. These companies will therefore have to look for clean delivery vans, whether they like it or not.
Fully electric vans are currently still quite expensive, because they sometimes contain 100 kWh battery packs. The Transit Custom PHEV’s 13.6 kWh package is small and therefore considerably cheaper. Yet you have enough range to operate fully electrically within the environmental zones. Outside, you crank the petrol engine again.
Ford Transit PHEV charging
You can of course hang it on a charging station during a job or lunch, if you still need some extra range in the city. You can hang the bus on the charger via the charging connection in the front bumper. If you only have a traditional socket nearby, it takes about four hours to fully charge. This process takes about 2.7 hours via a charging station. The battery pack also stores energy that is recovered during braking.
For employers who can almost always run the buses fully electrically, it becomes especially interesting when you look at the total cost of ownership (TCO) thanks to low consumption costs. If you have to make daily mainly highway kilometers, then the bus is less suitable, because the 1.0-litre petrol engine then has to work hard and consumption shoots up.
Ford PHEV sustainability
It sometimes seems like an afterthought, but in the end this is what matters: sustainability. Anyone who has ever walked or cycled through the city will be familiar with the smelly diesel fumes from roaring delivery vans at the traffic light. The Ford Transit Custom PHEV does things very differently. In EV Now mode, the three-cylinder range extender is stopped and you drive fully electric. No noise and no emissions. At most, a soft hum of the electric motor and a futuristic sound from an audio speaker on the outside, which indicates to the environment that you are there.
It may be durable, but it doesn’t make it any less practical. The modest battery pack is incorporated under the loading floor, so that the loading volume is the same as with the traditional Transit Custom (6 m3) and the loading capacity also remains almost the same: 1,130 kilograms.
Driver experience Transit PHEV
The driving experience in the Transit Custom PHEV is special to say the least. It is now known to most people that an electric motor provides direct torque, so that you are almost always the first to leave in an electric car at the traffic light.
This is no different with Transit Custom PHEV. The result is hilarious and must be a bizarre sight to people standing next to or behind you. As soon as the traffic light turns green, you can easily drive out of most cars up to 50 km/h. And that in a five meter long and two meter high van! We have to secretly chuckle about it.
The PHEV is otherwise almost identical to a traditional Transit Custom. The seats are comfortable, visibility is good and there is ample storage space for all your cups, keys, pens and forms.
Moreover, thanks to an on-board modem, the bus is always equipped with an internet connection. With the FordPass app you can easily see all kinds of information about the bus on your smartphone. Think of the fuel gauge, the status of the battery pack or the location of the bus. Fleet owners can see this information from multiple buses via the FordPass Pro app.
Thanks to low-emission zones, many companies have to look for an alternative to the old and trusted diesel bus. It is expected that from 2025, many municipalities will even have zero emission zones. With the Transit Custom PHEV, Ford offers the same old and familiar Transit experience, just a little more sustainable. It is a suitable solution for companies that often have to be in the city center and a nice stepping stone to a fully electric Transit. According to various sources, it is not long in coming.