Blockchain technology has been used to disrupt and improve various industries through decentralisation and transparency. Now, Ford is using blockchain along with geofencing to promote and increase cleaner air throughout major European cities.
Already established in Valencia, Spain and London, UK, the automobile corporation is expanding its European plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) trail to Cologne, Germany. This initiative aims to demonstrate and optimise the benefits of such vehicles for both the environment and for commercial vehicle owners and operators.
“Ford is committed to delivering new, more environmentally sustainable vehicles that can help address the mobility challenges our cities face,” Mark Harvey, director of Commercial Vehicle Mobility at Ford of Europe, said in a statement. “The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle trials with our partners in the City of Cologne build upon our ongoing electrification programmes elsewhere in Europe, and bring us all closer to meeting our combined urban air quality goals.”
In collaboration with five municipal fleets and the City of Cologne, nine Ford Transit Custom plug-in hybrid vans and one Tourneo Custom plug-in hybrid people-mover”— vans capable of producing zero emissions—will be tested in real-world scenarios.
Ford will also use innovative geofencing and blockchain technology to track and increase the number of “green miles” driven by these vehicles.
Blockchain technology creates permanent, time-stamped, tamper-proof records, which would be used in this situation to build a ledger of vehicle emissions records. Geofencing is used to create a virtual geographic border bound by GPS technology—a useful way to ensure that vans comply with regulations in low-emission zones.
In many European cities, low-emission zones are being established to limit air pollution by discouraging vehicles that produce a lot of pollution from driving through them. However, these initiatives can be difficult to follow, both for the cities and the drivers. As such, Ford’s geofencing and blockchain technology programme wants to help.
“The blockchain technology we are testing here in Cologne enables secure, tamper-proof tracking and logging of vehicle emissions records, which makes it ideal for the PHEV pilot,” said Gunnar Herrmann, chairman of the management board at Ford-Werke GmbH. “Security, trust and transparency of emissions data are of paramount importance to all stakeholders in this project, and are key for our vision of cleaner air in the city.”
The Ford Transit Custom is the first vehicle in its class to offer plug-in hybrid capabilities. Starting in 2020, a geofencing feature will be able to automatically switch the vehicle to zero-emission driving mode when entering low-emission zones, helping businesses comply with regulations and avoid charges or penalties.
Through its blockchain pilot programme, Ford has become an official partner of SmartCity Cologne— a platform for companies and organisations throughout the region to establish technologies and services to promote climate protection and clean energy.
“Cologne will keep its drive in the future. And it will be emission-free,” said Henriette Reker, Lord Mayor of the City of Cologne. “Transforming our city fleets and using climate-fair vehicles is a matter of high priority to us. After all: If we don’t follow our own guidelines, why should our citizens?…Our goal is to achieve the best possible solution for climate-friendly mobility in all areas.”