Ford will trial plug-in hybrid vans in London in an effort to accelerate the uptake of low-emissions vehicles and tackle climate change and air pollution.
Aided by £4.7m of UK government funding, the vehicle manufacturer will test 20 of the vehicles, which mainly operate using an electric battery but can fall back on a combustion engine, Ford said in an e-mailed statement.
Britain is banking on electric and hybrid vehicles to help cut emissions of both greenhouse gases and toxic air pollutants that have left London and other cities in breach of European standards. Ford aims to become the first car maker to mass-manufacture plug-in hybrid vans in 2019, and the London trial is as much about seeing how well suited the Transit Custom model is to ‘White Van Man,’ as how it operates in a city environment, according to the president of Ford Europe Jim Farley.
The van runs on electricity for the majority of city trips and has a range of about 30 miles (50 kilometres) on a single battery charge. It’ll be trialled by commercial fleets across London.
The government is pouring hundreds of millions of pounds into increasing the uptake of so-called ultra-low emissions vehicles (ULEVs), which parliament’s energy and Climate Change Committee said in September account for just 0.19 percent of cars on UK roads. Electric cars will “remain niche” until at least 2020, the panel said.
Barriers to take-up of the vehicles include a dearth of charging points, public doubts about the travel range of the vehicles, and their high up-front costs. Jaguar Land Rover said last year it wants to build electric cars in Britain if the government can overcome shortfalls in power supply.