Stop the presses! Hold all calls! Ford is going to begin testing a plug-in hybrid version of the European Transit cargo van in London this fall. The plug-in hybrid is known as the Transit Custom and has a reported range of 31 miles in the hyper-generous New European Driving Cycle.
Statistics show that utility vehicles drive a staggering 8 million miles every day in and around London at an average of 29 miles per vehicle. The project is being supported to the tune of $5 million from the Advanced Propulsion Center, which describes itself on its website as follows,
“The Advanced Propulsion Centre exists to position the UK as a centre of excellence for low carbon propulsion development and production. The Advanced Propulsion Centre was formed in 2013 and is a £1 billion, ten-year commitment between government and the automotive industry. The APC facilitates partnerships between those who have good low carbon propulsion ideas and those who can bring them to market. The Advanced Propulsion Centre was created to help bring these groups together and help them access funding.”
Ford is using the trial to burnish its cleantech credentials and remind anyone who will listen that it has embarked on a $4.5 billion campaign to add electrified vehicles to its offerings. Like that’s a big deal. Hyundai and Kia have committed $10 billion to the same goal and already have the Hyundai Ioniq and Kia Niro on the market. Ford is talking about maybe having the Transit Custom available by 2019. One of the world’s largest car companies is spending less than half what the Hyundai/Kia consortium is and bragging about it?
Or take a look at Deutsche Post, which has singlehandedly designed and built an all electric truck for urban delivery duties. “We are purposely not reinventing the wheel. We do not produce a single component ourselves. Everything comes from a supplier,” says Win Neidlinger, director of business development for Deutsche Post. He adds, “It did not cost billions to develop and produce. You will not believe how cheap it is to make.”
Deutsche Post expects to start marketing its truck this year. So why does Ford need a $5 million grant to study whether plug-in hybrid technology will work for urban delivery vehicles? Why doesn’t it just get off the schnide and build the damn things? The answer may offer a clue as to what companies will survive the transition to zero emissions vehicles and which will fall by the wayside.