Ford Transit hybrids finish extensive European test; partnership with Volkswagen eyed

A year-long trial by Ford of Europe to prove the viability of Transit vans using plug-in hybrid technology for urban use coincided with London’s establishment of an Ultra-Low Emissions Zone in high-traffic areas of the United Kingdom’s capital. Ford said its test results demonstrate that the Transit hybrid is a ready-to-go solution to meet the stricter emissions requirements in densely trafficked areas attempting to reduce pollution from vehicular exhaust. The test program took place in London and in Valencia, Spain, which involved 20 Transit hybrids that traveled a combined 150,000 city traffic miles. Ford said that in London, where the low-emission zone was created three months ago, 49 to 75 percent of the test mileage was accumulated using purely electric power. Among the partners participating in the program by using Transit hybrids were Heathrow Airport, Vodafone, British Gas and the London Metropolitan Police.

You can expect a lot – a lot – more news on alternative-energy vehicles from Ford in the future. The New York Times is reporting from Germany that Ford will announce a landmark partnership with Volkswagen as early as next week, under which the automotive giants will share the costs of creating new autonomous vehicles and advances in hybrid and all-electric power. The costs of these sorts of technological advancements will be enormous, and established carmakers will be looking to take on technology alliances so that those huge expenses can be spread out a bit. In this case, Ford’s presumed choice of Volkswagen is more than a little ironic to those who have a sense of history: Remember, back in the late 1960s, Ford invested heavily in developing the original Pinto as a direct competitor to Volkswagen’s ageless Beetle.

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