The first Ford Tourneo Custom Plug-In Hybrid PHEV minibus, with nine seats, has entered service with EcoCabs in Hexham.
It is purpose-built to passenger-carrying layout and promises much greater fuel efficiency than comparable conventional minibuses in its class. Ford states that a zero-emission range of up to 33 miles can be achieved thanks to an advanced electric powertrain, which works in conjunction with a 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine.
EcoCabs Managing Director Matthew Kirkby says he hopes to see a fuel return of in the region of 50mpg from the Tourneo PHEV, although thus far it has not been in service long enough for an accurate measurement to be taken.
Mr Kirkby adds that where electric power cannot currently provide an adequate range in minibus applications, a hybrid package makes sense. EcoCabs’ whole fleet could be converted to electric or battery-hybrid power within the coming 36 months as long as doing so makes financial sense.
“We are certainly keeping our eyes on developments in the larger passenger vehicle sphere. As and when practical solutions are found, EcoCabs will be there,” he adds.
“The most important factor is the reduction in emissions. We are always looking to the future, and with Ford releasing new models within the next six months we will be examining those as possible replacements for our older vehicles.”
Besides community taxi services, EcoCabs offers guided tours and support to the growing numbers of health-conscious and eco-aware travellers and tourists. It also supports cyclists and activities including the Three Peaks Challenge.