IVOTY ANALYSIS: Ford reveals electric light vehicle strategy

Date: Friday, June 7, 2019   |   Author: George Barrow


2nd Pic Hans Schep1

Hans Schep believes the new drivelines will succeed in opening up fleets to an even wider range of possibilities.

(Continued from page 1) Of course, keeping businesses moving is one thing, but costs are often cited as the reason for fleets’ reluctance to adopt electric vehicles.

With so many electric vehicles either in the market or soon arriving in the market, paying a premium (and perhaps charging one) to be a green-fleet operator will become less likely.

The decision between combustion and battery-powered vehicles might then become more clear cut – you’ll either need to operate within a defined radius of base, most likely within a Clean Air Zone controlled city, and can therefore use an EV, or you’ll need to travel elsewhere for greater distances and can use a conventional diesel.

For those that fall between both camps a plug-in hybrid is a natural compromise, but the cost of having both a combustion engine as well as a battery pack and motor will mean PHEVs will not be suitable for everyone.

“Purchase price is not irrelevant for these vehicles.

“It is now all about cost of ownership. We will never be able to have a vehicle operating in a city centre if it is too expensive.

“Different operators look at different bits, and there are some customers who are interested in the latest technologies.

“They won’t pay any price, but they will pay a premium price [for PHEV],” says Schep.
Whatever propulsion system best suits your need, Ford is committed to having you connected to it in a way that enables you to get the most from the vehicle.

Ford Pass, currently available on passenger cars and small vans, will be rolled out with a new Ford Pass Pro offering.

The aim is 100% uptime for vehicles. Through the app, users will be able to check on the status of every individual vehicle, and drivers can see live as well as predicted health details.

The idea being that servicing and maintenance work can be combined to minimise time spent off the road.

A more fleet-focused Ford Telematics app will also be introduced later this year to give fleet managers even greater data with real-time information delivered through The Cloud.

Alternatively, the same information can be obtained through Ford Data Services and integrated with current telematics or management systems.

Schep describes it as “stepping up our collaboration to give better choice and more innovative services than before”. With an exciting range of vehicles to come to market and ever more connected solutions to link them, choice and innovation are at the forefront of the Ford Transit range.

Comment: Looking ahead

I find it really interesting to sit and listen to the experts from each of the manufacturers talk about their vision for electric vehicles.

There’s no denying they will, one day, replace petrol and diesel in the passenger car market, but for commercial vehicles I think there’s some way to go yet.

Not because the technology isn’t there or the use-case isn’t applicable, but because financially the numbers don’t quite stack-up. As all vehicles become more technologically advanced cost increases, you only have to look at the rising price of a smartphone to confirm that.

Will EVs go the same way? Manufacturers say not. They believe the price will only come down due to greater economies of scale with battery technology.

I, for one, am sceptical about that because there’s not yet a fixed formula for those batteries, and don’t even get me started on the charging infrastructure or the plug types being used. Collaboration is the way forward, like VW using ABT for the e-Caddy and e-Transporter. If more manufacturers looked to outside expertise I’d like to think EVs will become more affordable, better suited and more appropriate for commercial vehicles a lot faster.

George Barrow is the UK judge for the International Van of the Year, the prestigious prize awarded by leading European LCV journalists.

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