A consortium of Ford, Scottish and Southern Energy and Strathclyde University will provide the prototype vehicles and a charging infrastructure in and around Hillingdon from early 2010. Ford of Europe is specially developing the prototype Focus BEVs to participate in the scheme and test the technology's suitability for potential future application in Ford's European passenger car range.
This new BEV demonstration fleet is being created partly with public funding from the UK Government's Technology Strategy Board (TSB), which promotes innovative industry-led projects that reduce CO2 while benefitting the country's transport system.
Joe Greenwell, Ford of Britain chairman, said: "Battery electric vehicles represent an important step in Ford's pursuit of delivering more efficient and sustainable mobility solutions. Ford is looking forward to working with its project partners on developing a viable market for electric vehicles both in the UK and Europe".
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, added: "I am absolutely thrilled that Ford and Scottish and Southern Energy have won funding to deliver innovative electric vehicles onto the capital's streets. I want to make London the electric vehicle capital of Europe and these trials will provide us with valuable information on what is needed to ensure they can become an everyday choice".
Ford of Europe's involvement with the fleet of electric Focus prototypes complements the development work already undertaken to showcase the Ford Tourneo Connect BEV Concept first revealed at this year's Geneva motor show.
Ford of Europe's BEV programmes are being led by its UK research and development centre at Dunton in Essex. Home to an engineering team of almost 3,000 vehicle specialists, Dunton Technical Centre is responsible for developing powertrains for all Ford vehicles in Europe, as well as every part of the company's commercial vehicle range.
The full BEV powertrain showcased in the Tourneo Connect Concept was developed in collaboration with Smith Electric Vehicles, the UK's leading battery electric specialist converter of commercial vehicles. Smith Electric Vehicles is part of a separate consortium that also has secured TSB funding to further develop the Tourneo Connect BEV Concept.
Smith Electric Vehicles already converts and offers the Ford Transit commercial vehicle to customers in the UK and Europe as the Smith Edison. Smith will also offer the Transit Connect van for sale in Europe as the Smith Ampere from 2010. The Tourneo Connect BEV Concept shows how this technology can be applied to a passenger use people carrier. In the US, Ford has confirmed that it will launch, with Smith Electric Vehicles the Transit Connect commercial vehicle as a full BEV in North America in 2010.
For the Tourneo Connect BEV Concept, latest level battery electric technology was chosen. A 21kWh lithium ion phosphate battery pack accumulates the energy to drive a 50kW permanent magnet motor, while the drive torque is transmitted to the driveshafts by a single-speed transmission. This set-up targets a range of up to 100 miles and a top speed of 80mph.
Recharging is easy: the onboard battery charger can be plugged directly into a standard mains socket, and a full battery charge is accomplished in six to eight hours.