Ford Zaps Europe With 2020 Explorer Plug-In Hybrid, Anticipated All-Electric Transit
Electrified Models Not Expected in the U.S.
Ford announced several new vehicles at an event in Amsterdam yesterday, giving the world a look at the forthcoming 2020 Explorer plug-in hybrid and all-electric Transit van expected sometime in 2021.
Electrified ExplorationThe 2020 Explorer plug-in hybrid, which will hit European streets later this year, makes use of a 3.0L EcoBoost V-6, 13.1-kWh lithium-ion battery, and 99hp electric motor. Total power output between the engine and electric motor is pegged at 444 hp (450 PS, in Euro-speak), which leads us to believe it’s the exact same powertrain found underneath the bodywork of the 450hp Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring plug-in. (As you likely know, the Aviator and Explorer share a common platform.)
Ford estimates the Explorer PHEV will offer 25 miles of electric-only driving in an urban setting, and as on the recently revealed Escape plug-in hybrid, owners can select between EV Auto, EV Now, EV Later, and EV Charge drive modes to choose how and when to use electric power. Working in tandem, the gas engine and electric motor provide the Explorer with a 2,500-kilogram (5,511-pound) towing rating, befitting the midsize family SUV. Furthermore, Ford says the Explorer PHEV will achieve 69 mpg combined in European testing, though obviously that would go down on journeys that deplete the battery and require more use of the gasoline engine.
The Explorer will only be offered in Europe in PHEV form, which means the Continent will be deprived of the exuberant 400hp Explorer ST that will be sold on our shores. However, the Explorer PHEV will be sold in ST-Line and Platinum grades. The former will get sportier interior and exterior styling: black 20-inch wheels, a black-finished grille, and high-gloss black exterior appliques, along with red stitching on the seats, floor mats, and flat-bottomed steering wheel. The Platinum will take a more genteel approach, with tarnished dark silver for its 20-inch wheels, satin silver grille and exterior appliques, and wood trim on the interior.
Ford has no current plans to offer the Explorer PHEV in the United States, but we’d be very surprised if it didn’t show up in our dealerships by the end of 2020 or so, particularly given the 2020 Police Interceptor Utility's available series-hybrid powertrain.
Zero-Emissions #VanLifeAs Europe begins to demand higher taxes of internal combustion vehicles (and is considering banning them altogether from urban centers), Ford has a few options for last-mile delivery and shuttle service.
The company announced it would launch an all-electric Transit fullsize van sometime in the year 2021, giving urban delivery services a zero-emissions offering. Ford says the all-electric van will be available in a variety of body styles and configurations, “with a competitive payload” for easy integration into existing fleets. The Transit will go a bit further, developmentally speaking, than the StreetScooter WORK XL, a Transit-based electric van assembled at Ford’s plant in Cologne, Germany, and pressed into service by DHL in Germany. Ford promises a practical daily range for city-bound businesses for the large cargo van, which we think will likely be able to travel farther than the 93 miles currently offered by the Mercedes-Benz eSprinter.
In addition to the electric Transit, Ford will also offer a plug-in hybrid Transit Custom, which is a slightly smaller, front-wheel-drive van sold in Europe only. Like the Transit, the Transit Custom will allow van operators to travel within internal combustion–restricted zones thanks to its estimated 31 miles of electric range. The Transit Custom’s front wheels are powered exclusively by an electric motor-generator through a 13.6-kWh battery pack, with a front-mounted 1.0L EcoBoost I-3 acting as a range extender that charges the battery. The Transit Custom PHEV will be ideal for operators that travel longer distances but still must occasionally enter urban areas, offering a total range of 310 miles on both gasoline and electricity.
The Transit Custom cargo van will also be joined by a Tourneo Custom passenger shuttle, offering the same powertrain specifications but in a three-row, eight-passenger van configuration. The Tourneo Custom allows its two rear benches to be arranged either facing forward or facing each other, which Ford says makes it ideal for use as a corporate shuttle.
Finally, Ford will offer the fullsize Transit, front-drive Transit Custom, and passenger Tourneo Custom in an EcoBlue Hybrid configuration, combining the company’s low-emissions EcoBlue diesel powertrains with a 48V mild hybrid electrical system. This relatively low-cost technology will improve efficiency by about 3 percent relative to a non-hybrid EcoBlue 2.0L turbodiesel I-4, according to Ford.
Continental CarryallAdmittedly, the news applies only to Ford’s European offerings. The company has made no announcements regarding electrification of the North American–spec Ford Transit or Explorer SUV. But as we stated before, we would be surprised if at least some of the plug-in and mild-hybrid technologies don’t make the jump from the Continent to the U.S. within a few years, particularly as the company moves away from cars to larger, intrinsically less efficient crossovers and sport/utility vehicles.