The next-generation Ford Ranger, due to arrive in the UK in 2022, will be available with zero-emissions electric power.
Ford has committed to making its entire commercial vehicle range, including Ranger and Transit, available in either all-electric or plug-in hybrid variants by 2024, with two-thirds of its commercial sales expected to be electrified by 2030.
Ford’s Electric Future Investment
Ford will be investing $1 billion (£720m) to modernize its vehicle assembly facility in Cologne, Germany, one of its largest manufacturing centres in Europe and the home of Ford of Europe.
The investment will transform the existing vehicle assembly operations into a centre for the exclusive manufacture of electric vehicles, Ford’s first such facility in Europe.
This follows a similar level of investment in the Silverton Assembly Plant in South Africa, home of the Ford Ranger and, from 2022, the Volkswagen Amarok.
“Our announcement today to transform our Cologne facility, the home of our operations in Germany for 90 years, is one of the most significant Ford has made in over a generation,” said Stuart Rowley, president, Ford of Europe. “It underlines our commitment to Europe and a modern future with electric vehicles at the heart of our strategy for growth.
Driving further growth in Ford’s commercial vehicle business will be an ecosystem built around connected services designed to help their businesses to thrive. These include connected uptime and productivity services such as FordPass Pro for fleets of up to five vehicles, and the launch of Ford Fleet Management, created by Ford and ALD Automotive last year, offering fleet customers bespoke services.
“We will offer an exceptional range of electrified vehicles, supported by customer-centric digital services and experiences, allowing our customers to come with us on the journey to a fully electric future,” added Rowley. “In combination with our leading commercial vehicle business, this will form the basis of a sustainably profitable Ford business in Europe.”
The Future for Diesel Powered Pickups
The forthcoming pure-electric Ford F-150 pickup truck in the US proves the capability of pickup trucks running on battery power alone. However, the new Ranger, to be built in South Africa alongside its Volkswagen Amarok sibling, will retain its traditional diesel power alongside any plug-in options and is likely to continue using the EcoBlue range of engines currently fitted to the model.
Switching to electric power brings with it some difficulties, mostly around payload capacity. Adding an extra 500kg or more of battery back to the unladen weight of a pickup truck will bring most to more than 2,700kg. An allowance of an additional 750kg is available for electrically-powered light commercial vehicles, bringing the maximum authorised mass to 4,250kg and, therefore, allowing a pickup to retain that vital one-tonne payload capacity.
The regulations also allow drivers with a regular category B licence to drive such a vehicle, rather than being limited to the usual 3,500kg. However, this doesn’t cover vehicles not being used to transport goods, does not allow for the towing of a trailer, and also requires a “minimum of five hours training by a registered instructor on the driving of an alternatively fuelled vehicle.”
Given the complications of running an electric pickup truck commercially in the UK, there is currently no end date for diesel sales.
The UK’s ban on commercial vehicles powered purely by combustion engines comes into force in 2030, although plug-in hybrids with a minimum electric range – a range that has yet to be decided – will continue to be available until 2035.
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