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Ford extends Transit Custom plug-in hybrid trials to Cologne

Ford is expanding its trials of plug-in hybrid vehicles to include Cologne in Germany to assess the real-world benefits of the technology for fleets.

Working with five municipal fleets and the City of Cologne, nine Ford Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid vans and one Tourneo Custom Plug-In Hybrid people-mover will be put to the test in a variety of real‑world use cases.

The study complements trials being carried out in London, which found the plug-in hybrids could achieve around 75% of urban mileage on full electric power, bringing air quality benefits, and Valencia in Spain.

Already on sale and starting first deliveries at the end of the year, the Ford Transit Custom is the first vehicle in its class to offer plug-in hybrid technology while an all-electric Transit is expected in 2021.

In Cologne, the trial will be run in partnership with five municipal fleets and will see nine Ford Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid vans and one Tourneo Custom Plug-In Hybrid people-mover put to the test in a variety of real‑world use cases.

Ford will also investigate how geofencing and blockchain technology could help to accurately track and increase the number of ‘green miles’ driven by vehicles in line with the growing use of low-emission zones in cities such as Cologne.

Blockchain creates permanent time-stamped records of data which are saved on multiple computers and which constantly grows as new records or ‘blocks’ are added. Alongside the geofencing technology, this could help drivers understand where and when vehicle restrictions are in place.

Each of the 10 PHEVs in the 12-month Cologne trial features the FordPass Connect on-board cellular modem, and a plug-in device which enables the geofencing and blockchain capabilities. Whenever a trial vehicle enters a controlled zone, its electric-drive mode is triggered and the zero-emission driving green miles are documented. The emissions mode and time that vehicles enter or leave a controlled zone are recorded to a secure distributed ledger – a blockchain – ensuring emissions data is safely stored and shared among relevant parties including city authorities and the vehicle or fleet owners.

The dynamic geofencing technology also means the vehicles can adapt in real time to changes in emissions zones. For example, cities may choose in the future to adjust controlled areas or create new ones based upon local weather or environmental conditions. The connected PHEVs will then automatically switch to low-emission mode when they enter these updated zones.

“Ford is committed to delivering new, more environmentally sustainable vehicles that can help address the mobility challenges our cities face,” said Mark Harvey, director, Commercial Vehicle Mobility, Ford of Europe. “The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle trials with our partners in the City of Cologne build upon our ongoing electrification programmes elsewhere in Europe, and bring us all closer to meeting our combined urban air quality goals.”

Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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