Ford today extends its European plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) trial to Cologne. The study, which is also testing Ford PHEVs on the streets of London and Valencia, Spain, aims to better analyse and show the real-world benefits of such vehicles for the environment and for commercial vehicle owners and operators.
Working with five municipal fleets and the City of Cologne, nine Ford Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid vans and one Tourneo Custom Plug-In Hybrid people-mover will be put to the test in a variety of real‑world use cases. Ford will also investigate how innovative geofencing and blockchain technology could help to accurately track and increase the number of “green miles” driven by vehicles.
Blockchain is a data security technology that underpins some digital technologies. It creates permanent time-stamped records of data which are saved on multiple computers and which constantly grows as new records or “blocks” are added. Geofencing is creating a virtual geographic boundary defined by GPS technology.
“Ford is committed to delivering new, more environmentally sustainable vehicles that can help address the mobility challenges our cities face,” said Mark Harvey, director, Commercial Vehicle Mobility, Ford of Europe. “The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle trials with our partners in the City of Cologne build upon our ongoing electrification programmes elsewhere in Europe, and bring us all closer to meeting our combined urban air quality goals.”
In Cologne, as in cities across Europe, low-emission zones are being introduced to address air quality challenges by discouraging the most polluting vehicles from driving through them. However, these zones can present difficulties both to the cities implementing and administering them, and to drivers understanding where and when restrictions are in place. That’s where Ford’s geofencing and blockchain technology pilot could help.
Each of the 10 PHEVs in the 12-month Cologne trial features the FordPass Connect on-board cellular modem, and a plug-in device which enables the geofencing and blockchain capabilities. Whenever a trial vehicle enters a controlled zone, its electric-drive mode is triggered and the zero-emission driving green miles are documented. The emissions mode and time that vehicles enter or leave a controlled zone are recorded to a secure distributed ledger – a blockchain – ensuring emissions data is safely stored and shared among relevant parties including city authorities and the vehicle or fleet owners.
The dynamic geofencing technology also means the vehicles can adapt in real time to changes in emissions zones. For example, cities may choose in the future to adjust controlled areas or create new ones based upon local weather or environmental conditions. The connected PHEVs will then automatically switch to low-emission mode when they enter these updated zones.