Ford, the market leader for light commercial vehicles in the U.K., is undertaking a three-year trial to assess the viability of hydrogen.
The project will seek to establish if hydrogen fuel cell technology can deliver more zero-emission range to heavy-use E-Transit customers, in particular those high-mileage fleets traveling with maximum loads, ancillary equipment such as chillers, and with limited charging opportunities in the working shift.
The small-scale fleet trial involves eight fuel cell Ford E-Transits that will run for six-month periods over the three-year project to 2025. Ford says the test fleet data gathered will provide insights into the total cost of owning and operating a large van, with increased range and operating hours to match its diesel-powered equivalent and without the need to charge.
The trial is partly funded by the Advanced Propulsion Centre and will feature fleet operators such as Ocado Retail, an online grocer.
Other partners in the project are bp (capturing hydrogen usage and infrastructure requirements); Cambustion (testing the fuel cell system); Viritech (designing hydrogen storage systems); and Cygnet Texkimp (providing the pressure vessels’ carbon fiber tooling).
Tim Slatter, chair of Ford in Britain, said:
“Ford believes that the primary application of fuel cells could be in its largest, heaviest CVs to ensure they are emission-free, while satisfying the high daily energy requirements our customers demand.
“Ford has an unmatched history in the commercial vehicle sector with the indomitable Transit, and we are excited to be exploring new ways to make clean deliveries an option for even our hardest working vans on the road.”
Hydrogen fuel cells produce electricity by combining hydrogen from an onboard tank with oxygen, offering zero emissions but extended range and quicker refueling over battery electric vehicles.
The prototype Ford E-Transits will be fitted with a high-power fuel cell stack, in conjunction with significant hydrogen storage capability. Ford says that an important project element will evaluate efficient and viable recycling for end-of-life components.
The Advanced Propulsion Centre collaborates with the U.K. government, the automotive industry and academia to accelerate the industrialization of technologies that support the transition to deliver net-zero emission vehicles.