Courtesy of Ford

Ford Transit Connect PHEV Coming To Europe This Year

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Ford announced on January 30 that it will introduce its third generation Transit Connect to the European and UK markets, with sales starting in the second half of 2024. That’s not likely to get many CleanTechnica readers excited but what will pique their interest is that one version of the new Transit Connect will offer a plug-in hybrid powertrain with 68 miles of battery only range.

That is more than adequate for many tradespeople to drive on electrons most business days and slash their dependence on gasoline and diesel. In effect, this is the Chevy Volt work van GM could have made nearly a decade ago but chose not to. There are quite a few Volt owners in the CleanTechnica family and they tell us how delightful it is to drive on electrons most to the time. If decarbonizing work vehicles is on the agenda, the Transit Connect PHEV just hit a home run. Now the the news.

Transit Connect PHEV Specs

In a Ford Pro press release (Ford Pro is the commercial vehicles arm of the company), the company said the plug-in hybrid powertrain has a 1.5-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine, a high voltage battery, and an electric motor. Combined, the system has 150 PS (148 hp) and 350 Nm (258 ft-lbs) of torque and sends power to the wheels through a six speed dual clutch automatic transmission. Maximum payload is 770 kg (1700 lbs) and the maximum towing capability is 1,400 kg (3100 lbs). The Transit Connect PHEV can be charged using a 50 kW DC charger or the 11 kW onboard AC charger.

“Over the past two years, we have electrified the Transit family to help every kind of customer accelerate their productivity and electrify their business. Our all new Transit Connect is another key step in that mission,” said Hans Schep, general manager for Ford Pro, Europe. “Transit Connect’s new PHEV and all-wheel drive options, high-tech interior and support from Ford Pro pack serious hard working appeal into a stylish and compact body.”

Electrive reports the new version of the Transit Connect is based on the ubiquitous Volkswagen MQB platform, which makes it a close cousin of the VW Caddy sold in Europe. The PHEV powertrain is also sourced from Volkswagen, the report says. There is a suggestion that Volkswagen itself may soon offer a PHEV version of the Caddy. The Transit Connect PHEV will become available to customers in the middle of this year. Ford has three other cargo vans that share the Transit name and all will have a battery powered only option soon. They include the full size E-Transit, the E-Transit Custom, which is one size smaller than the Transit Connect, and the E-Transit Courier, which is the smallest van offered by Ford Pro.

Drivers can select battery only mode, hybrid mode that allows the engine to supplement the battery, or an engine only mode that allow the Transit Connect PHEV to operate exclusively on the engine, saving battery power for when is it needed most. Many cities now have restrictions on vehicles with gasoline or diesel engines, so drivers of a Transit Connect PHEV can use the engine to drive to those city limits and switch to battery only power when they enter ultra-low emissions zones.

Driver Assist Features

All variants of the Transit Connect have a range of driver assistance features including a ten inch digital instrument cluster. A central touchscreen, also ten inches in size, allows for smartphone integration via Apple Carplay and Android Auto or for navigation. Other options include a heated steering wheel and heated front seats.

Ford Pro offers the Transit Connect as a two-seater panel van or as a crew cab with five seats – each with a short or long wheelbase. Customers can also choose between the three equipment lines Trend, Limited and Active. Customers will be able to order the model from spring 2024, with deliveries starting in the summer, according to Ford. The diesel versions will be launched on the market first, but the PHEV version will also be delivered from the middle of the year. The 5 seat version will not be available until late 2024.

The Takeaway

Range anxiety is what keeps owners of commercial electric vehicles up at night. We know a plug-in hybrid powertrain is neither fish nor fowl and many people think they are an abomination, since they still have an infernal combustion engine and transmission with thousands of moving parts that need oil changes and such, but before you dismiss this announcement out of hand, think about this.

We are being bombarded on a daily basis by disinformation about electric vehicles. They don’t work in the cold. They cost too much. Their resale value is in the toilet. There are a pain in the neck to charge. And yet all those objections go away when we add in the PHEV piece of the puzzle, which allows many people and businesses to drive on electrons instead of molecules most of the time.

Drivers get to experience the pleasure of a quiet electric vehicle. Business owners get to enjoy lower fuel and maintenance costs for their vehicles. Those favorable impressions will transfer over to life outside of work and help spread the good news about electric vehicles. PHEV may be a stop gap, a way station on the journey to zero emissions driving, but that doesn’t mean we have to exclude it from our available options. Maybe in 2035, PHEV vehicles will seem hopelessly outdated but for now, let’s celebrate them for what they do well.

68 miles of range is pretty darn good. The first PHEV from Audi had all of 8 miles of range. Things have come a long way since then. Many plug-in hybrid vehicles today can only travel 25 to 30 miles on battery power, which means they are relying on engine power much of the time.

BYD is rumored to have a PHEV pickup truck in the works. Volkswagen has a PHEV version of the Passat available in some markets. Even Mercedes offers a plug-in hybrid version of its mighty S Class sedan that it sells alongside the EQS battery electric car. Mostly, those models exist for those who want to avoid the curse of range anxiety while still being allowed to drive in the low emissions zones that are becoming more common in many cities, especially in Europe. There are plenty of people who would love a PHEV version of the Ford Maverick midsize pickup truck.

So let’s celebrate the Ford Transit Connect PHEV. For many business owners, it is precisely the vehicle they need until the EV revolution catches up with them — which we hope will happen soon.


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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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