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Ford’s Plan for a Hybrid Transit Custom

Alternatively fueled cars are becoming more mainstream as big manufacturers join the clean air initiative with their range of electric vehicles. But will we see the same cars available as wheelchair accessible vehicles? At the moment choice is limited with no hybrids listed on the Motability Scheme and only four electric vehicles – all versions of the Nissan eNV200. Engineers at Cartwright Mobility believe this could change soon with a new plug-in hybrid version of the Ford Transit Custom due to go into production next year. The high-roof Custom is Cartwright Mobility’s most popular wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) with its deceptively spacious interior for a vehicle of its size. In this post we take a look at the potential of the hybrid Transit Custom and find out what it promises to bring to the market in 2019.

Ford’s Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle

Ford’s alternative Transit Custom is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), which means in a nutshell that it has both a battery and an internal combustion engine. Ford estimates that the battery will provide enough power for you to drive 31 miles (50km) before it needs re-charging. But the battery isn’t working alone, it is backed-up by Ford’s 1.0 litre Eco-Boost petrol engine. This small engine doesn’t drive the wheels, it is simply there to charge the battery when you need it. According to Ford this means you don’t get the same “range-anxiety” that is normally associated with purely electric vehicles like the Nissan e-NV200 or the Renault Kangoo ZE. In other words you don’t have to worry about running out of power before you get to the next charging point.

Ford Transit Custom PHEV
Ford Transit Custom PHEV


Also known as a “series-hybrid”, it gives drivers the freedom to choose when they use the petrol engine. There are a lot of advantages to driving the PHEV Transit Custom without using the engine, not least because electricity is cheaper per mile than petrol or diesel. But its biggest attraction is the contribution it makes to lowering air pollution in our towns and cities, which benefits us all. As part of the Government’s plan to tackle air pollution they have introduced ‘clean air zones’ in five cities across the UK, including:

1. Birmingham
2. Derby
3. Leeds
4. Nottingham
5. Southampton

Local Authorities in these Cities are already planning how they will lower air pollution in these ‘zones’ before they become operational in 2020. Drivers of vehicles that contribute to the levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in the air will most likely have to pay to drive within the boundaries of these zones. With the PHEV Transit Custom you can chose when to switch to electric mode so if you know you’ll be making a trip that involves driving through a clean air zone you can save your battery power for the city. Not only will you avoid paying any charges but with zero emissions you’ll be saving the environment too.

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Could it be converted into a WAV?

We already know that the Ford Transit Custom makes a great rear passenger wheelchair accessible vehicle. The high-roof model is fitted with seven seats plus a four-point restraint system for a wheelchair and a fully automatic lift at the rear. Cartwright’s engineers have designed the interior of the vehicle to create a feeling of space but will the PHEV version be suitable for this type of conversion? It certainly looks promising as Ford says there will be no compromise on load space in the hybrid Transit Custom. Its compact battery is located under the floor of the vehicle so the size of the space inside should remain unchanged but we’ll only really know with more research. A cross-section of London-based businesses are currently trailing the hybrid Transit Custom as part of a 12 months study led by Transport for London (TfL). So along with many other people with a vested interest in this new product from Ford we will wait to see the outcome of the trial – watch this space!

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