Ford New Zealand plugs in with Transit and Escape hybrids
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The new hybrid versions of the revised Escape and Transit van ranges are just the start of Ford New Zealand’s charge towards the increasing electrification of the company’s model range, says managing director Simon Rutherford.
Backing up this commitment towards less gaseous motor vehicles are the newly-inked joint ventures that Ford has signed with Volkswagen and Mahindra. For the German car-maker is the European leader in electric vehicle development, while Mahindra develops and makes India’s best-selling EVs.
The new plug-in versions of the Escape and Transit van, both available in two models, are therefore harbingers of a new wave of charged-up Fords.
“They’re the first products to reach us of what I call ‘the Hackett era’ at Ford,” says Rutherford, a reference to Ford president and chief executive, Jim Hackett, who has led the company since 2017.
“It’s the beginning of an era of high innovation.”
Soon we’ll see all-electric Mustangs and F-series pick-up trucks if all of FNZ’s market aspirations can be fulfilled, but of the two new plug-in hybrids, it’s the van that most demonstrates Ford’s desire to innovate.
This has a “flat pack” 13.6kWh lithium-ion battery stowed below the luggage bay floor, which powers the 93kW/350Nm electric motor that does all the driving duties directly without the need of a transmission.
With the battery fully charged, the van can travel 50km before the 1.0-litre petrol engine automatically fires up to extend the range of the battery. This allows the Transit PHEV to roam for 500km on a full charge and a full tank of petrol.
Ford’s real-world testing of a fleet of 20 Transit PHEV prototypes found that 75 per cent of the driving around Central London and 49 per cent of the travel in the Greater London area could be completed on electric power alone.
Four driving modes – EV Auto, EV Now, EV Later, and EV Charge – allow operators to choose a mode that most suits the driving scenario to further increase efficiency. Average fuel use can become as low as 2.7l/100km during a working day of deliveries and pick-ups on urban roads. The electrified Transit can also carry heavier loads than its diesel-powered SWB equivalent, with a 400kg higher gross vehicle mass rating and a 1130kg payload. The load volume of six cubic metres is the same capacity as the diesel Transit.
Only available in the short wheelbase version of the Transit, the PHEV versions will cost $89,990 for the base model and $99,990 for the Tourneo coach version fitted with eight leather-trimmed seats.
They join a new plug-in van sector that’s only just beginning to emerge, with only the fully-electric LDV EV80 ($80,489, 200km range) and smaller Renault Kangoo ($74,990, 200km range) for company.
The new Escape range, featuring a longer, wider body with a lower floor based on the same platform as the Focus, includes two PHEV versions along with four 2.0-litre turbo-petrol models.
Read More: Inside Ford's all-new Escape SUV
It’s part of revised Ford SUV lineup that also includes the compact Puma (pictured above with Escape).
The Escape PHEV powertrain combines a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine with a 14.4kWh battery to develop a maximum output of 167kW, dropping average fuel use from the 8.6l/100km of the Ecoboost versions to 1.5l/100km.
This economy is boosted by the Escape PHEV’s ability to travel 56km on electric power alone. As with the Transit PHEV, battery reserves can be maximized via the judicious selection of the same four driving modes. Based on the fuel use figures, the PHEV versions of the Escape emit 33g of CO2 every kilometer instead of the 199g of their turbocharged siblings.
Driving the front wheels through a CVT transmission, the entry price for the base Escape PHEV is $60,990, $18,000 more than its $42,990 Ecoboost equivalent. It’s also priced $8000 higher than the popular Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, but its Focus hatchback-inspired exterior design should be more attractive to most eyes.
The better-equipped Escape ST-Line X PHEV will list for $66,990, and feature a larger touch screen, auto park assist, push button starting, a hands-free power tailgate, tyre pressure monitoring, a front-view camera to back up the rear view cam of the base model, 19” wheels and sports suspension.
The PHEV version of the Mitsubishi is the most popular choice of Kiwi Outlander buyers, but the two new Escape PHEV models arguably have stronger showroom rivals in the form of the non-electrified Escape models.
For the Ecoboost versions pump out 183kW and 387Nm maximums, and can be ordered in either front-drive or all-wheel-drive form. The latter all-wheel traction enhancement is the preserve of the Escape ST-Line model tier, which costs $47,990 as a front driver, and $50,990 when made 30kg heavier by the addition of extra driveline hardware. An eight-speed automatic gearbox, enhanced by paddle shifters, is standard on all Ecoboost-powered Escapes.
New Zealand’s Ford dealers are gearing up to sell more electrically-powered new cars. Each dealership will soon have at least one charging station at the front, backed up by another at the rear, while showrooms will feature a dummy recharger so that customers can become familiar with plugging the cars in.