The Ford Transit Custom PHEV is the new plug-in hybrid version of Ford’s popular medium-sized van. With a punchy 126hp/355Nm motor, an all-electric range of 56 miles and a 1,130kg payload, the Transit Custom PHEV certainly has a lot to offer; but how does it perform in the real world? Tim Campbell put it to the test.
Ford Transit Custom PHEV specification
Ford offers three trim levels on the Custom PHEV; the Leader, Trend and Limited. The Leader is the fleet-focused vehicle and includes just the basics like a DAB radio, 4.2-inch display, Ford SYNC, electric windows, air conditioning, an 8-way adjustable driver’s seat with armrest, central locking and 16-inch steel wheels.
Moving up to the Trend, customers also receive power foldable and heated door mirrors, LED daytime-running lights, body colour bumpers, speed limited and cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wheel covers.
Meanwhile Limited models are furnished with heated front seats, alloy wheels, body colour rear bumpers and a Thatcham Cat 1 alarm.
Battery and motors
This is so far a unique solution in the van world so it may take some explaining. The Transit Custom PHEV has a 92.9kW (126hp) / 355Nm electric motor, a 13.6kWh battery pack from LG and a 140hp petrol EcoBoost engine. However, the petrol engine never directly drives the wheels; it merely acts as a generator to charge the battery which powers the electric motor.
There are four hybrid settings;
- EV Now uses power from the battery until it has run out of charge
- EV Later engages the petrol motor to keep the battery at full charge while it powers the motor
- EV Charge uses maximum regeneration and the petrol engine so that the battery is charging while also powering the electric motor
- EV Auto engages and disengages the petrol motor dependant on how full the battery is and the driving conditions.
The electric battery has a range of 56 miles and this can be extended a further 310 miles by charge generated by the petrol engine. For reference, when we selected the ‘EV Charge’ model (so the petrol engine charging the battery and powering the electric motor), the fuel economy hovered around 27mpg.
Ride and handling
Diesel versions of the Transit Custom have great driving manners anyway, but it excels in the PHEV. The even lower centre of gravity, combined with the instant torque and silent driveline (in EV mode) means the Custom PHEV was a pleasure to drive in both the city and on the open road.
There is an ‘L’ setting on the transmission which recovers electricity at a much higher rate, meaning the deceleration is much harsher but this helps extends the range of the EV only mode.
When the EV range reaches zero, the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine cuts in to charge the battery but – because it is extremely refined – we only noticed it when we were at a standstill or the engine was providing both charge for the battery and the electric motor as it revved higher to generate more power.
The main drawback was that it cut in earlier than we thought as our all-electric range was only around 36 miles. This means it averaged only 2.6 miles per kWh compared with between 3.0 and 3.5 miles per kWh for an average medium-sized van. The petrol consumption is noticeably higher than petrol vans too; around when increasing charge and providing charge to power the motor.
However, the end result cannot be grumbled with; an average fuel consumption of 3.08l/100km on the harsher WLTP cycle and a total ranger of 366 miles.
Transit Custom PHEV payload and dimensions
From the launch, Ford will offer only the Transit PHEV in short wheelbase, low-roof (L1H1) form providing a load volume of 6.0 cubic metres (read Ford Transit Custom dimensions for more). The Transit Custom PHEV retains its 1,130kg payload at 3.4t as the diesel engine and all the exhaust treatment systems weigh roughly the same as both the 1.0-litre petrol engine and the battery.
Ford Transit Custom PHEV price and availability
The Ford Transit Custom PHEV is priced between £39,145 plus VAT for the Leader and £42,950 for the Limited (Transit Custom PHEV is eligible for the 20% plug-in grant). This includes Ford’s 3-year, 100,000-mile warranty (the battery is covered up to eight years or 100,000 miles).