Ford used the Commercial Vehicle Show to confirm the first five fleets to participate in its Transit Custom PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) London trial that will begin this autumn.

The most high-profile organisation to sign up for the scheme is the Metropolitan Police force, which is to take on two models – one marked for second response to traffic accidents and one unmarked as a forensic support unit.

As revealed in What Van? in February, Transport for London, which is supporting the project, is also participating in the trial, with three plug-in hybrid Transit Customs for freight duty use. The other companies coming on board are Clancy Plant,  Addison Lee and British Gas.

Ford said the 20 Custom PHEVs involved in the 12-month trial could reduce local emissions by running solely on electric power for the majority of inner-city trips due to an all-electric range of 30 miles.

But, equipped with range extenders, the manufacturer said the fleet is not limited by battery range, making the vehicles capable of undertaking the longer journeys that may be required by businesses and ‘blue light’ services.

Using a Ford telematics system, each Custom PHEV will collect data on its financial, operational and environmental performance to help understand how the benefits of electrified vehicles can be maximised.

Ford has appointed Mark Harvey to the new position of director of the Urban Electrified Van programme to lead the trial from the brand’s Dunton Technical Centre in Essex.

Harvey said: “Commercial vehicle use is incredibly varied from sector to sector, and the trial should give us some really interesting insight into how CVs are used across a
range of industries in the city, allowing us, as a manufacturer, to better develop electrified CVs that work for the customers, whilst also improving air quality.” Ford plans to introduce the PHEV models commercially in 2019.

The manufacturer also displayed a Ford Mobile Service van on its stand. Based on the 130hp, six-speed manual FWD Transit Custom, 100 of the vans will operate from 90 Transit Centres across the UK.

The vans are fitted with a racking system designed by Edstrom, and equipment includes a 2.5t jack and axle stands to allow technicians access to the underside of vehicles as well as a 4G-enabled onboard diagnostics system covering the full range of Ford cars and light commercial vehicles.