Ford Supervan 4 to tackle Pikes Peak

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Ford’s Supervan will be driven by current Pikes Peak record holder and three-time Le Mans winner Romain Dumas.

The Ford Supervan, the US firm’s mega-powered electric showpiece developed by the Ford Pro commercial vehicle division, will take on the famous Pikes Peak hillclimb in Colorado later this year.

Set to be driven by current Pikes Peak record holder and three-time Le Mans winner Romain Dumas, the 1337kW Supervan will look to challenge the leading time set by the Volkswagen ID R electric racing prototype, which finished the 20km climb in 7min 57.148sec back in 2018.

Ford vehicles have competed in the Pikes Peak hillclimb for over 100 years and the firm raced a Ford Model T up the circuit in its inaugural year in 1916. It crossed the finish line, which is situated 4302m above sea level, in 28min 3sec. Other Ford vehicles that have tackled the climb include a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 SE in 2022.

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Ford’s Performance Motorsport division said the challenge will be the ideal place to test and showcase the vehicle’s electric capabilities, such as its powerful regenerative braking system.

“Ford’s latest generation of electric vehicle technology is the perfect match for America’s mountain,” said Roman Dumas. “With high altitudes cutting power in traditional ICE-powered vehicles, the electric powertrain of Supervan 4 has no loss at elevation and will be a healthy competitor in this year’s race.”

Ford revealed the Supervan last year, presenting the high-performance model at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Loosely based on the Ford E-Transit Custom, although only really in name and basic silhouette, it features a quad-motor powertrain that, Ford says, is good for a sub-2.0sec sprint from 0-100km/h.

“The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is the perfect next stop for Ford Performance, and is the perfect place to take Supervan 4, as both have long, storied histories that ignite the imagination of racing fans all over the world,” said Mark Rushbrook, Ford Performance Motorsports’ global director.

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“Both have evolved over time, and it’s time to take our electric vehicle technology and put it to the test on the mountain against some of the most impressive performance vehicles in the world.”

While the road-going van is offered with 265bhp in its most potent form, the new one-off creation that starred at Goodwood Festival of Speed packs almost eight times that.

Ford quotes an output of 1337kW – as much as the Lotus Evija – from the quad-motor powertrain and the Supervan’s claimed sub-2.0sec 0-100km/h is far quicker than any of the three previous Supervans managed. Power comes from a 50kWh battery mounted midships – as were the engines in the combustion Supervans – for optimal weight distribution and it can be charged in just 45 minutes using a standard fast charger.

The powertrain can be operated in one of five modes: Road, Track, Drag, Drift and Rally, with differing power delivery characteristics depending on the intended use. There is also a pit-lane speed limiter and an intriguingly named ‘tyre cleaning mode’, which locks one axle while spinning the other to create “impressive burnouts” but also to “help clean and warm the tyres before performance runs”.

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The Supervan 4’s capabilities were showcased at Goodwood by Romain Dumas, who has set record times at the Nürburgring, Pikes Peak and Goodwood hillclimb using Volkswagen’s retired ID R electric racing prototype.

The vehicle is a showpiece for the Ford Pro commercial vehicle division, but the engineering work is all courtesy of Ford Performance and Austrian electrified rallying outfit Stard.

The standard E-Transit Custom floorpan is topped by a steel spaceframe and a radical aero-optimised body fabricated with lightweight composite panels, while the suspension, brakes and steering are all track-honed systems.

Motorsport-derived features include a massive front splitter, prominent side skirts and a GT3-style rear diffuser – all installed in the name of enhancing downforce – while the standard van’s panel sides give way to a cutaway design that tapers towards the rear for improved airflow.

It’s a similar story inside, where the E-Transit’s comparatively opulent cabin makes way for a more race-friendly set-up comprising a full roll cage and FIA-approved race seats. But importantly the Supervan 4 also has a touchscreen lifted from the Ford Mustang Mach-E, which can be used, Ford says, when drivers want to “take a break from hustling the electric Supervan up hillclimbs and around racetracks to plot a route, find a charger, connect to wi-fi and make phone calls”.

Ford said: “Beyond demonstrating Ford’s advanced electric vehicle and connectivity know-how, the electric Supervan is also a high-speed science experiment. Its demanding driving scenarios and unrestricted design concept allow Ford to push the boundaries of electric vehicle engineering and connectivity to improve its future race cars and road-going vehicles, software and services.”

The company highlights that the connectivity offered by the Sync infotainment system “keeps the driver informed and enables real-time data transmission for remote vehicle management and optimised performance, just like the integrated services that can accelerate the productivity of over 125,000 Ford Pro customers across Europe.”

In another nod to everyday usability, the Supervan also offers a conventional rear load bay, even having a door at the side for easy loading, and the regenerative braking can be set to three different levels of severity, just like on the standard Ford E-Transit.

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