Ford is leading a research project to investigate the potential for a hydrogen E-Transit as an onboard energy source for its Ford E-Transit van, with the aim of establishing whether fuel cell technology can provide greater zero-emission range to heavy-use customers who travel high mileages with maximum loads, ancillary equipment such as chillers, and limited charging opportunities in their working shift.
The project is part-funded by the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) and involves a consortium of six automotive technology leader and fleet operator partners who will help to determine the supporting hydrogen refuelling infrastructure required.
The project will also expand Ford Pro's conversion expertise, with engineers and E-Transit specialists from Dagenham and the company's nearby Dunton Technical Centre in Essex providing support. The project will validate the vehicle's business case by linking Ford's expertise as a 57-year UK van market leader with fuel cell powertrain experts and fleet operators including Ocado Retail.
Other partners on 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 fibre 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.”
A low-volume test fleet of eight hydrogen fuel cell Ford E-Transit vans will run for six-month periods over the three-year project to 2025. Test fleet data 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 prototype Ford E-Transits will be fitted with a high-power fuel cell stack, in conjunction with significant hydrogen storage capability, optimised for safety, capacity, cost, and weight. An important project element will evaluate efficient and viable recycling for end-of-life components