Fleets Could Drive Forward Electrification

Commercial fleets are probably the biggest benefactors from the diversity of powertrains now available thanks to electrification.

This is the clear message Ford delivered at the UK’s CV Show in Birmingham in April while displaying its latest diesel, mild hybrid and PHEV Transit LCVs. TU-Automotive caught up with Ford’s Mark Harvey, director commercial vehicle mobility solutions, to hear more about the carmaker’s fleet strategy.

Harvey told us that Ford’s offerings will always try to reflect the wide-ranging needs of today’s businesses. He explained: “If you look at the commercial vehicle business it is so diverse with customer needs just as diverse so a carmaker has to tailor offerings for all of those. For those doing intercity work a Euro 6 diesel with very clean levels of emissions, really is what they need.

BEV Transit

“However, someone who is operating with some long distance but also with time in the city a mild hybrid would be better for them because it offers better fuel economy in an urban environment. Then there’s the PHEV for someone who is really operating in the city a lot more and then those wanting a fully capable all-electric urban vehicle in a couple of years time we will have the BEV Transit. So we are trying to provide the full range of choice for our customers.”

Yet, the biggest challenge to mass adoption of all-electric vehicles by business remains the lack of adequate infrastructure particularly in the urban environment. Harvey said: “Obviously, with anything that needs plugging in the real challenge is infrastructure and that’s why we are one of the partners in the Ionity network together with BMW, Volkswagen and Daimler and they are rolling out their high powered charging solution across Europe. This is an effort to help the take-up of BEVs which need high power fast charging but this still needs continued government support.”

Mobility

Harvey also believes taking risks in finding mobility and last-mile delivery solution, as Ford did with the failed Chariot experiment, is essential for carmakers to learn the lessons required. He said: “I’ve been leading the trial of the plug-in hybrids in London and also the last-mile delivery service we have been piloting and also the connectivity we are introducing into Transit. Our strategy is smart vehicles in a smart world and the piece that I am heavily focused on is the smart vehicle piece.

“Chariot was a big decision for Ford to make but I think what we have learned from the Chariot experience is huge for us a company. The Ford Commercial Solutions you see today is using a telematics platform that was developed to run the Chariot fleet. So, those learnings has made that product better for all our customers.

“Also the way we acquire companies and how we run transit solutions are all informed by what we learned from Chariot and how we tailor our offerings in future.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


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