The Royal Mail is to trial Ford Transit vans powered by hydrogen-fuelled internal combustion engines.
The two vans, built by specialist engineering firm Revolve, will be taking part in a six-month trial at Stornaway in Scotland, after being purchased by Cenex, the Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel-Cell Technologies.
The vans, based on the 2.3-litre petrol variant, have a supercharger added, while either two or three hydrogen tanks are fitted under the load-floor so not impacting on cargo space.
However, the tanks weigh 250kg, which must be subtracted from the payload.
As well as the Royal Mail trials, the vehicle is now being offered for sale or lease by Revolve, although bosses said development was still under way.
Paul Turner, technical director at Revolve, admitted that selling the vans wasn’t going to be easy.
“Fleets won’t buy them because there is no re-fuelling infrastructure and the garages won’t create an infrastructure because there are no hydrogen vans for sale," he said.
"We have decided to stand up and do something and hopefully in the future things will improve.”
It is aiming the vans at city-based fleets.
The vans have a range of about 85 miles but also retain the original petrol tank, so won’t be left stranded.
Revolve is covering the usual warranty on the engine and hydrogen parts while Ford is guaranteeing the rest.
At present, ordering a single van from Revolve would cost fleets £45,000 over the normal Transit price, but fleets will be offered a discount for bulk buying.
Full feature and test drive of the new vans will appear in the March issue of Fleet Van