What Car? says...
Some of the biggest household names including Sky, Royal Mail and Vodafone are responsible for helping to fine tune the Ford Transit Custom PHEV. Twenty prototype vehicles were sent out to operators in London for a 12-month trial period. After completing more than 150,000 miles, 75% of which were carried out on electric-only power while in central London, the production ready plug-in hybrid Transit van has gone on sale.
The 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine of the Transit Custom PHEV is not connected to the wheels; instead it provides electrical power for the 93kW electric motor that drives the van.
Charge is stored in a 13.6kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which can store enough energy for a zero-emission range of 35 miles. This extends to 310 miles when the range-extender engine is being used. The batteries can be charged up in 4.3 hours using a 3Kw domestic plug or 2.7 hours using a 7Kw charger.
The rear of the Transit Custom PHEV is the same as other versions of the Transit Custom, so the maximum load volume is 6m3. The payload capacity is reduced slightly to 1130kg.
Just one size of vehicle is available, a standard height short-wheelbase model (L1H1) , while three trim levels, Base, Trend and Limited are available. You can also get a kombi van, but only in Trend trim, and there is an MPV version with up to eight seats.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The Transit Custom PHEV has four driving modes. In EV Auto mode, the vehicle will automatically decide for itself if it will run with the motor being fed with electrical power from the battery or supplied by the engine. EV Now mode runs the vehicle purely on the batteries, and in contrast EV Later mode prevents the battery from being depleted so its power reserves can be used at a later date. EV Charge uses the engine to power the motor and charge the battery at the same time; this enables the engine to rev up to 5000rpm, which provides more power but can also get quite noisy.
Like all electric powertrains, the immediate surge of power from the electric motor means the Transit Custom PHEV feels fast off the line, but that burst of acceleration is short-lived. Although the van will surge forwards initially, there’s not enough thrust for overtaking once you’re on the move.
That 35-mile claimed pure electric range isn’t too optimistic; you can expect around 28 miles of zero-emission driving when running in the EV Now mode with a load on board.
Of course, electric-only driving isn’t the only option, so there’s none of the range anxiety you get from a pure electric vehicle. In EV Auto mode the van will do around 40mpg, which is better fuel economy than the regular diesel Transit Custom can offer.
The battery charged by not only the petrol engine but also by a regenerative braking system. This recovers energy that would otherwise be lost during braking and converts it into electrical power, with a standard mode and a more severe one for more intensive regeneration. Both modes slow the vehicle down effectively; if you plan well ahead, using the brake pedal can be a relatively rare necessity.