Hy-ly efficient Transit

Ford has developed a micro hybrid diesel electric Transit van that automatically switches off its engine while idling. The company claims the van consumes over 21 per cent less fuel than a standard vehicle.

This significantly reduces emissions, particularly as the number of urban deliveries has been rising recently with the increased popularity of internet shopping.

The HyTrans, which was driven in public for the first time this week at the company’s Dunton Technical Centre in Essex, features electric belt-driven integrated starter-generator (ISG) technology.

The ISG system acts as an automatic engine stop-start system that saves fuel during urban driving. As long as the engine’s catalyst has achieved warm-up temperature, when the vehicle comes to a halt with the clutch depressed such as in traffic or during a delivery, the engine cuts out to save fuel.

When the Transit’s clutch is depressed ready to move off again, the high torque capacity of the belt-driven combined starter-alternator ensures that the engine starts again before the gear has been selected.

The ISG system also offers regenerative braking, meaning that waste braking energy is converted into stored energy to top up the vehicle’s batteries.

The HyTrans has the same two-litre engine as a normal Transit, but produces fuel savings of 21.3 per cent in an urban delivery drive cycle with a corresponding reduction in emissions.

The van is the product of a part- government funded 12-month research project launched by Ford and partners, including Ricardo and automotive supplier Valeo, in February. HyTrans’ performance was measured using the New European Drive Cycle as well as two delivery driving patterns developed using data provided by commercial Transit customers. The van saved fuel in each of the cycles, with the biggest gain in the door-to-door delivery pattern involving the highest proportion of stop-start driving.

Ford has concentrated on building a diesel van as there is more demand for these among fleet operators. The firm estimated that the vehicle will cost slightly more than a conventional van, but will deliver fuel savings to offset this within three to four years’ use.

The vehicle is now undergoing a 12-month test programme, during which it will be assessed by prospective customers. A decision on whether to go into production will be taken in early 2006.