, the is making its debut on Thursday. Along with the forthcoming SUV and pickup truck, this battery-powered commercial van is a vital part of Ford’s electrification push, an $11.5 billion investment through 2022. With plenty of clever features, the promise of much lower maintenance costs and cavernous amounts of interior space, the E-Transit looks poised to get commercial customers and fleet managers all hot and bothered.
When it goes on sale late next year, this van will be available in a range of different flavors, with three roof heights and three different lengths. Chassis-cab and cutaway variants will be on the menu, as well. About the only version that won’t be offered, at least at launch, is a passenger wagon — you know, like an airport shuttle.
Providing the juice is a lithium-ion battery, similar to what’s used in the Mach-E. It, along with the rest of this van’s drivetrain, is mounted underneath the floor, so there is zero intrusion into the cargo area. Helping achieve this, “We engineered a completely different independent rear suspension,” said Yaro Hetman, global marketing director of electric trucks and commercial vehicles at Ford. Yep, you read that correctly. The E-Transit features an independent rear suspension. The way its powertrain was designed, a driveshaft is not needed, and since there’s no internal-combustion engine up front, Ford mounted the full-size spare tire under the hood.
This amped-up Tesla and Lucid are offering vehicles with 400 or even 500-plus miles of range, this seems like a laughable figure, but it’s actually not, and here’s why.battery pack will offer 67 kilowatt-hours of usable capacity, which, in a low-roof cargo van, provides an estimated driving range of 126 miles. In a world where companies such as
“If you’re driving 50 miles on an average day, why in the world would you ever pay for 500 miles?” asked Hetman. Fleet customers, who watch every penny, are unwilling to pony up for any capability they don’t absolutely need, and Ford has plenty of data to back this up. According to Hetman, the average commercial van drives just 74 miles a day. This means the E-Transit’s range is pretty much where it needs to be for many customers. Of course, Hetman acknowledges that some people will fall outside that window, but they can always grab a conventionally powered Transit or wait a little longer. “This is the start for us,” he said. In the future, “We will have more capability [and range].” He wouldn’t confirm it, but it sounds like an all-wheel-drive version of the E-Transit is in the works, too.
This van’s battery pack can be replenished in a variety of ways since it supports both AC charging and DC fast charging, with the port being mounted in the middle of the grille, right underneath the Ford logo. The included mobile charger can supply juice at either 120 or 240 volts. Plugged into the latter, the E-Transit can gain about 10 miles of range per hour, however, if you hook it to a 115-kW DC fast charger it can recoup about 30 miles in just 10 minutes.
Putting those electrons to good use, the E-Transit is powered by a motor that delivers an estimated 266 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque. All that twist should give this van decent around-town scoot, even when loaded up. These figures are still preliminary, but expect this van to have a maximum payload capacity of 3,800 pounds, or 4,290 pounds in cutaway form. Protecting customers for the long haul, the E-Transit’s electric-vehicle components are covered by an 8-year or 100,000-mile warranty. Further sweetening the deal, on average, the new E-Transit is estimated to have 40% lower maintenance costs than a comparable gas-powered 2020 Transit over that time period or distance.
Another way customers can tap into the battery’s energy reserves is with an available feature called Pro Power. With a series of plugs in the cargo area, this basically turns the E-Transit into a mobile generator, one that provides up to 2.4 kW of juice, enough for you to run various power tools like an air compressor or circular saw. This means people won’t have to buy a separate generator or an aftermarket inverter. With its somewhat limited range, this feature may sound like a non-starter, but that’s not the case. Hetman said, doing three hours of work at max power, something few people would likely ever do since, for instance, if you’re working with wood you make a cut and then shut the saw off, would only consume around 7 kWh of power. “[And] realistically, that’s just under 11% of the battery capacity,” he noted, which is a “very manageable impact.”
Further helping commercial customers, the new E-Transit will offer a range of connected-vehicle services. “We’ve given them … the software tools to monitor the charge status of all the vehicles [and] how the vehicles are being charged,” said Julius Marchwicki, chief operating officer of Ford Commercial Solutions. Users will also be able to remotely pre-condition their E-Transits while they’re plugged in to help preserve driving range. This van will also allow managers to monitor off-hours use and know whether a vehicle has been towed or moved when it’s not supposed to be. “We’re launching on E-Transit,” explained Marchwicki, but these features will be available on other vehicles as well.
In addition to EV-specific features, this van will also offer an in-cab driving coach. The system can keep track of acceleration and braking events as well as speed and, through the voice assistant, guide the user to operate the vehicle in a more desirable manner. “That just-in-time feedback to the driver helps improve their performance over time,” said Marchwicki.
The new E-Transit offers some interesting tech. Just like the regular model, a range of standard and available features makes living or working with one of these vehicles much easier. Features like lane-keeping assist and automatic emergency braking will be included at no extra charge, while amenities including blind-spot monitoring, a surround-view camera system and adaptive cruise control will be optional. Another nifty standard feature is ainfotainment system with a gargantuan 12-inch touchscreen. For added convenience, this multimedia array includes a 4G LTE modem and supports over-the-air software updates.
The new E-Transit is set to arrive at dealerships in late 2021 and should carry an entry-level price tag of less than $45,000. A global product, it will be offered in North America, throughout Europe and even in New Zealand. The automaker is not releasing any sales projections for the E-Transit or even what percentage of overall Transit deliveries it’s expected to make up, but with a reasonable base price and plenty of clever features, it should be just the ticket for plenty of fleet operators.