Driving an LCV which isn’t powered in the conventional way doesn’t have to be shrouded in stress thanks to a new hybrid version of the Ford Transit Custom. We take it for a test run.
There’s not many vehicle manufacturers who could even begin to contemplate a £20,000 plus price premium on a model which, to the casual observer, pretty much looks identical to its considerably cheaper siblings. But then the Ford Transit is no ordinary commercial vehicle, spanning more than 55 years and with total sales in excess of 8 million.
Its latest incarnation is the Transit Custom PHEV, and the only clue of what really lies beneath is a small charging point on the driver’s side. Plug it in and watch it go…. around 340 miles, with 35 of those attributable to all-electric. It’s all possible thanks to a 1 litre petrol engine which connects with a battery pack tucked away under the load bed, so that the vehicle’s cargo capacity of six cubic metres and payload up to 1,130kg remains largely the same as the conventional model.
Battery charging can be completed using a standard three pin socket in around four and a half hours, while a 16A charger will give a full charge in just over two and half hours. The claimed 90+ mpg will, of course, very much depend on how little or often the battery is charged up, but most journeys can be approached without the range anxiety which inevitably accompanies a purely electric vehicle.
Setting off in complete silence can be a little disconcerting to the uninitiated, but it quickly builds up a surprising turn of speed with an only just discernible hum. The surprisingly compact HP engine is used exclusively to charge the electric motor, not the wheels directly, and there are a number of driving modes on hand to make the most of the hybrid set up.
One suspects in order to fully maximise every last drop of juice would take considerably more on the job driving experience than the COVID-19 restricted test drive we mustered around the roads of Hertfordshire late last year, but at no time did it cross our mind that we wouldn’t be back in time for tea!
We’ve road tested plenty of variants of the ever-popular Ford Transit before, and there is a plethora of reasons why it consistently remains at forefront of a highly competitive field of workhorses. So, it will be interesting to see the take up on a vehicle which has created a niche between the conventional fuel powered models and the all-electric van options which are coming on to the market.
Ford’s own all electric Transit is scheduled to be launched in 2022 and the boffins will have clearly done their homework. So, there may be some who will wait until then before fully weighing up their environmental credentials.
Certainly, for now the standard Custom diesel van is the vehicle of choice for most busy tradespeople, but if your business involves rarely leaving town – and you want to improve your ‘green’ footprint at the same time – this hybrid could certainly plug a very timely gap.
View an interactive online brochure by clicking here