Ford hopes to clean up London's air with plug-in hybrid vans

It's not going to scrub every molecule, but it's a start.

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Nobody's going to solve air quality issues in one fell swoop. Ford's decision to give London a bunch of plug-in hybrid vans won't magically change anything, but we've all got to start somewhere.

Ford and the city of London have teamed up to help clean up the UK capital's air. To help achieve that, Ford is deploying a 12-month trial that will give certain London businesses access to a fleet of Transit Custom vans with plug-in hybrid drivetrains. The government-funded Advanced Propulsion Centre is the main supporter for the project.

Oh, look, another neat van we don't get in the US.

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The vans will be used largely for city trips, whether it's making deliveries or doing maintenance work. Since most of the traveling will be done at slow speeds for short periods of time, the vans can theoretically operate on electricity alone, cutting tailpipe emissions to zero in the process.

Vans are an important part of London's commercial industry. They represent 75 percent of peak freight traffic, making some 280,000 journeys on an average weekday, covering a collective 8 million miles. That sounds like as good a place as any to start cleaning things up.

This 12-month pilot also stands as a preview of Ford's future electrification efforts. The automaker plans to introduce 13 new, electrified global models over the next five years. No, the new Ranger and Bronco are not included on that list, but the Mustang is.

The design's a little shouty, no?

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