The Magazine for LCV Fleet Operators
With the government’s confirmation of its ban of the sale of new diesel and petrol vans and cars from 2030, we mark the announcement... Ford’s big Transit goes all-electric

We start with the much anticipated unveiling of Ford’s E-Transit. But, as Dan Gilkes reports, don’t expect to see it in UK showrooms until spring 2022.

Ford has taken the wraps off its much-anticipated full electric E-Transit. Boasting a 269hp driveline, payloads of up to 1,616kg and a WLTP driving range of up to 217 miles, the E-Transit should prove a popular choice in the growing electric van market. The only down-side, is that it probably won’t appear in Ford dealers much before the spring of 2022.

European E-Transit models will be built alongside diesel vans at Ford’s Kocaeli plant in Turkey, while North American models will come from the firm’s facility in Missouri, making this a truly global BEV van. From launch it will be offered in 25 body and chassis layouts, including panel vans with two roof heights and three body lengths, offering up to 15.1m3 of load volume. There will also be chassis cab and double-cab-in-van models.

E-Transit will be offered with gross weights of 3.5, 3.9 and 4.25-tonnes, all of which can be driven on a car licence under recent changes to legislation. That higher gross weight will allow a maximum payload in the vans of 1,616kg and a maximum body and load allowance for chassis cabs of up to 1,967kg.

Power comes from a 67kWh battery pack, that should deliver up to 217 miles of driving range. Unlike many competitors, Ford has opted for rear-wheel drive, with a 198kW (269hp) e-motor mounted on the rear axle. The company developed a new independent rear suspension system, replacing the standard van’s leaf springs, to make room for the e-motor and maintain the same load floor height as diesel versions. Indeed, Ford claims that the van can take the same racking and conversions as any other Transit model.

The van will have both AC charging and DC fast charging capabilities, with a charge point in the centre of the front grille. The on-board 11.3kW charger will be able to take the battery to 100% charge in 8.2 hours. The DC fast-charger can work with up to 115kW supplies, taking the battery from 15% to 80% in just 34 minutes. The E-Transit will be able to access the Ionity network of fast-charge stations throughout Europe.

There is an Eco Mode in the drivetrain that Ford claims can offer up to an 8-10% improvement in energy usage. Eco Mode limits top speed, regulates acceleration and optimises the climate control to boost range.

As well as powering the drive motor, E-Transit will come with an optional Pro Power Onboard system, that can deliver up to 2.3kW of electrical output, for power tools and other on-site equipment.

The vans will need to see a dealer once a year, with an unlimited mileage allowance between service intervals. Ford predicts maintenance costs will be up to 40% lower than a diesel model, contributing to overall total cost of ownership (TCO) savings. The battery and high-voltage components will be covered by an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty.

Interior
The cab interior will be familiar to any Transit driver, though the E-Transit will come with a 12” touchscreen with Ford’s SYNC 4 connectivity. All of the vans will have a Ford Pass Connect modem as standard, offering real-time charger location data and over the air updates. This will link to various Ford Telematic fleet solutions and the data can also be made available to third-party fleet management software. The vans will of course come with a host of driver assistance and safety systems, such as Pre-Collision Assist, Blind Spot Information System and Reverse Brake Assist.

“Ford is North America and Europe’s commercial vehicle leader, so the transition of fleet vehicles to zero emissions, especially for the fast-growing last-mile delivery segment, is critical to achieve our carbon neutral goal by 2050,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s president and CEO. 

“Ford is ready to lead the charge that started with its award-winning Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid and EcoBlue Hybrid. It’s good for the planet and a huge advantage for customers with lower operating costs and new connected technologies that will help their businesses.”

As happened with the Transit Custom PHEV, Ford will be trialling E-Transit with a number of European customers over the coming months, before launching to the public early in 2022. Full pricing and specifications will be announced nearer to the on-sale date.

“Our clear mission to make our customers’ businesses thrive has helped to make Ford the leading commercial vehicle brand in Europe,” said Hans Schep, general manager commercial vehicles, Ford of Europe. 

“Electrification brings new ways for customers to manage their businesses and fleets more efficiently.“

Connectivity
Making the transition to electric vehicles is not easy, so Ford is developing fleet-wide energy management and vehicle monitoring tools, that will help businesses to make that move. This includes electric vehicle data, charging reports and web-based pre-conditioning of vans prior to use.

“Knowledge is power and Ford is empowering commercial businesses by giving them the information they need to get the most out of their electric vehicles,” said Julius Marchwicki, chief operating officer, Ford Commercial Solutions. 

“Our new connected services and telematics-based offerings don’t just help optimise the performance of their fleet and help improve the performance of their drivers, they help ensure businesses can stay focused on providing great service to their customers.”

Fleet users will be able to monitor the performance of individual vans, manage energy usage and, with data such as kWh consumption, charge speed and distance to empty, managers will be able to better understand real-time operation. Ford will also introduce in-vehicle driver coaching through SYNC 4’s voice assistant. When drivers exceed speed limits, accelerate rapidly, brake harshly or fail to fasten a seatbelt, they will get in-vehicle audio messages asking them to change their behaviour.

“We’ve heard directly from our customers how important driver coaching systems are to them,” said Marchwicki. “By integrating this service directly into our vehicles, businesses can better promote safe driving behaviour, optimise energy usage on their vehicles, and reduce wear and tear without installing extra hardware.”

Ford will also offer integrated Driver ID, providing an easy way to associate specific drivers with vans. The drivers will enter their individual code into the SYNC 4 touchscreen, allowing managers to analyse performance and coaching metrics.