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A year-long trial in London suggest that plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) commercial vehicles could present the most practical option for businesses trying to meet clean-air targets in Europe’s cities.

The trial – which was supported by a grant from the U.K. Government-funded Advanced Propulsion Centre – consisted of 20 Ford Transit Custom plug-in hybrid vans covering 240,000 km over a 12-month period.

The study found that hybrid vans were able to dramatically reduce tailpipe emissions in the inner city, using the flexibility of a petrol range-extender to complete longer journeys when required.

Participants in the trial included: Addison Lee Group, Heathrow Airport, the Metropolitan Police, Royal Mail, Transport for London and Vodafone.

“Emissions-free mobility is essential for the future of our cities and their citizens, but we know there are still barriers we face in the move to electrification,” says Mark Harvey, director, Urban Electrified Van programme at Ford.

He adds: “We also know that businesses still have legitimate concerns about the range of fully-electric vehicles, as well as their cost-effectiveness and reliability. These trials have helped Ford and its customers to investigate the extent to which PHEVs can help to achieve urban air quality goals, whilst not compromising on productivity.”

2018 FORD TRANSIT PHEV

Ford says it’s already incorporated learnings from the trial of prototype vehicles to optimise the Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid production model that will go on sale to customers at the end of 2019. It’s set to launch further city trials in Cologne, Germany and Valencia, Spain, with plug-in hybrid vans and people-movers.

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