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Ford Introduces the Transit Minibus With Ambient Lights Saving Energy

Ford has developed a new battery-electric 10-seat Transit Smart Energy Concept minibus with ambient lighting that makes passengers feel warmer or cooler.

Colors influence a person’s mood and state. Red ambient lights help warm up, blue lights stimulate cooling. The both save energy taking the strain from the aircon system. The saved energy can be used to cover more distance on a single charge.

The research conducted in the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory proves that a climate control system in a battery-electric vehicle reduces the driving range by up to 50%, when it works.

Vehicles with larger cabins, like vans or minibuses, require more energy to maintain the temperature inside. To extend the range of an EV, Ford experiments with colors for choosing a right one in a certain driving situation.

Ford Transit Smart Energy Concept

The prototypes have been tested at the company’s Environmental Test Centre in Cologne, Germany. The driver monitored the temperature status of all passenger seats from a central console screen.

The passengers in simulated conditions (from 0°C to +30°C) were asked to define their level of comfort (too hot or too cold). The ambient lighting resulted in decrease of power usage of the climate system by 3.3% for cooling and 2.5% for heating.

To optimize energy use and reduce heat loss, the Ford Transit Smart Energy Concept has got many innovations, including:

  • Six roof-mounted solar panels that charge a 12-volt battery for powering seat heating, cabin lighting and on-board electrical systems
  • An innovative heat recovery system that utilizes waste heat from the drivetrain components, the outside and inside air to extend the driving range by 20%
  • Ventilated double-glazed windows and insulated rear floor and roof
  • A halfway-open power sliding door. When it opens, the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning blower is off automatically
  • A polycarbonate divider between the passenger door and seating area that further reduces heat loss as passengers enter and exit, and protects them from external elements
  • Heated panels and seat heating for passengers to control the temperature of their own area

Future versions will enable the driver to control heating and cooling of individual seats and deactivate unoccupied seats.  

The all-electric Ford Transit van for Europe is planned to enter the market  in 2021. Meanwhile, it is undergoing road tests.

Source: Ford of Europe

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