Thursday 29 February 2024

Road - Peek into the future?

As the former editor of the UK’s best light commercial vehicle magazine (now retired!) I miss the industry, the technology and the insights, so I’m particularly miffed at missing out on Ford’s latest creation, the Ford Performance SuperVan 4.2.

This was actually revealed last year and was demonstrated at Goodwood, which I did make mention of here, but the van is currently on t’other side of the world breaking records and setting new ones and will be making an appearance at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix next month (21-24 March).

Apart from the silhouette, this all electric machine bears little resemblance to any other light commercial vehicle but that’s not the point, the point is all about promoting electric vehicles with Ford commercial vehicles at the forefront of that.

Anyway at Mount Panorama during the Thrifty Bathurst 500 event, and with Romain Dumas at the wheel, the ‘van’ set a trio of lap records, for the quickest closed-wheel vehicle, electric vehicle, and commercial vehicle to lap the 6.2 kilometre racetrack.

Afterwards, Dumas who drove the vehicle last year at Pikes Peak, said: “This is the first time I have driven SuperVan 4.2 faster than 300km/h (186.4 mph), and we left nothing on the table as we pushed for the fastest lap possible. No one has ever driven a vehicle like SuperVan 4.2 around Mount Panorama, and certainly not this quickly.”

But before you all think that we are all being subtly converted to electrically propelled vehicles as the way of the future, Ford are hedging their bets too.

The company has entered into practical trials with Ocado Retail and BP using its hydrogen fuel cell E-Transit project.

Ford has been working on hydrogen fuel cells since the 1990s and this latest test will take their research a stage further. Not only will they be working on the vehicles themselves but plans for a nation-wide re-fuelling structure to support such a move should the government ever change its mind about electricity and the motor car!! And pigs might fly (Ed.).

Anyway, I’ll be interested to see how the project works out. Surely a better idea than ‘wet-belt’ engine technology. Manufacturers of such propulsion units recommend belt changes at 100,000 miles but I know of dealers who are recommending 60,000 mile limits. Me? I’d be changing them at 30,000 miles. Happy motoring, eh?

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