The main goal is to keep the minibus warm inside efficiently
The recently presented Ford Transit Smart Energy Concept is a 10-seat all-electric minibus based on the Ford Transit, equipped with a StreetScooter WORK XL battery and powertrain.
The main purpose of the project is to develop the best solutions to increase range, which is the “toughest challenge” in the minibus format because of frequent door openings, a large space to keep at comfortable temperatures, and a big payload to carry. Traditional electric heating can decrease the range in the winter by roughly 50%.
“Compared to goods transport vehicles, multi-occupant vehicles such as minibuses require significantly more energy to create a comfortable temperature for occupants. The energy is provided by the high-voltage battery, presenting a significant challenge to the vehicle’s driving range.
Demonstrated recently for the first time at a special “Go Further” experience in Amsterdam, Netherlands, the fully-functioning, all-electric Transit Smart Energy Concept delivers 150 kilometres driving range from a 4-hour charge, supported by energy-saving and energy-generating innovations from solar panels to powertrain heat recovery systems.”
Ford’s Merkenich Technical Center in Germany decided on several solutions, including a heat pump and better insulation against heat loss:
- An innovative heat pump system that utilises waste heat from the drivetrain components, the outside air and the air within the cabin to reduce heating system energy usage by up to 65 per cent, resulting in a range extension of 20 per cent
- A power sliding door that opens halfway to reduce heat loss and can be activated by the passenger using a smart device. The heating, ventilation and air-conditioning blower is automatically deactivated when the door is open
- Heated business-class passenger seats and surfaces that enable passengers to control their local temperature, reducing the energy required for the large cabin
- Six roof-mounted solar panels that charge a 12-volt battery for powering seat heating, cabin lighting and on-board electrical systems including wireless charging for passenger mobile devices
- A polycarbonate divider between the passenger door and seating area that further reduces heat loss as passengers enter and exit, and protects passengers from external elements
- Ventilated double-glazed windows that reduce cold contact surfaces and insulate against heat loss
- Mood lighting that adjusts according to cabin temperature – red for warmth and blue for cooling – subliminally influencing passengers’ perception of cabin temperature
- An insulated rear floor and roof that further reduce cabin heat loss
The range of the Ford Transit Smart Energy Concept is about 150 km (93 miles) and we guess that after all of those additional efforts, it will not drop that much during the winter, as in case of an ordinary electric minibus. However, there are no detailed test results. Real-world trials will begin later this year.
“The driver can monitor the temperature status of all passenger seats from a tablet-inspired screen mounted in the centre console, which also gives an overview of the power savings. Two screens mounted behind the driver enable passengers to track the vehicle’s location, find out about points-of-interest and receive news and weather updates.
Future iterations of the concept are planned to enable the driver to control heating and cooling of individual seats – and deactivation of unoccupied seats. Automatic passenger detection inspired by existing airbag deployment technologies will also feature.”
Kilian Vas, project leader, Vehicle Architecture, Ford of Europe said:
“With frequent door openings, a large space to keep at comfortable temperatures, and a big payload to carry, a minibus presents the toughest challenge for maximising battery-electric vehicle range, and that’s exactly why we chose it for our new Transit Smart Energy Concept. By developing this concept we’ve found a number of clever ways to save energy that could help further improve the electrified vehicle experience for customers in the future.”
Ford Transit Smart Energy Concept specs:
- 10-seat minibus
- range of 150 km (93 miles)
- charging capability in 4 hours
- based on Ford Transit, equipped with StreetScooter WORK XL battery and powertrain