Driving the e-version of world’s best selling van: e-Transit

It’s the world’s best-selling van for decades, so if you get the chance to drive some of the first all-new e-Transits coming from Ford’s Kocaeli (Turkey) factory, you grab it. Expect a totally new experience, so quietly and swift you might forget you’re on your way with a 3,5-ton vehicle. And that can be a blessing or a curse.

And this new Transit is the centerpiece of a total new eco-system called Ford Pro (for ‘productivity’) that will allow companies to have the whole fleet connected and integrated, charged, and monitored remotely, whether it wears a Ford badge or not.

On a bed of roses

With more than 5 000 e-Transits already ordered before production started, Ford sits – again – on a bed of roses. News broke on Thursday that parcel delivery company DPD is expanding its fleet in the UK by 1 000 Ford E-Transits.

The most asked question of van drivers will always be how far you’ll get with it? The e-Transit comes with a 68 kWh (usable) battery that should give you a range of 317 km (WLTP). That should do the job in most cases without intermediately fast-charging and even leave extra room for plugging in AC power tools at 240V, for instance, without needing a generator.

Plugging in power tools

The Ford ProPower Onboard function you’ll also find in the F150 Lightning can provide up to 2,3 kW of power in the cockpit or the loading space of the van to power up tools. That comes in handy on remote sites where no grid power is available.

The e-Transit has a powerful electromotor that can deliver up to 135 kW in eco-mode or 198 kW in normal mode and 430 Nm of torque. That tempts you to set up the sprint at the green light with the diesel competition next to you for them watching you drive off.

But when you do, a friendly woman’s voice (Amazon Alexa) in the Transit warns that accelerating that much costs a lot of energy… It’s one of the features of the onboard monitoring system. But also part of the hyper-connected van, enabling the fleet manager at the company to know minute per minute where you are or how you (mis-)handle the vehicle.

Big Brother watching

Each van comes standard with the FordPass Connect modem enabling it to keep track of the vehicle in the brand’s telematics software platform. Big Brother is watching, but luckily how far this goes is a customizable function, at least for the fleet owner in the first place. In some countries with strong unions in the logistics sector, this kind of ‘privacy breaching surveillance’ might not be applauded.

The e-Transit is also equipped with Traffic Sign Recognition and Intelligent Speed Assist, which together can identify speed restrictions. Still, it also allows fleet managers to set vehicle speed limits.

This might not be to the liking of van drivers as it restricts their ability to react. But on the other hand, it could guide them to more relaxed and more economical driving, while this van drives and handles almost like a light personal car. Good seating, electrically adjustable for the driver, good overview, and all the whistles and bells of a modern car.

Gold Award Euro NCAP

That includes adaptive cruise control, blind-spot assist, lane-keeping and lane-change warning, a 360° camera view, etc. E-Transit got a Gold Award from independent vehicle safety authority Euro NCAP for its advanced driver assistance systems.

The reverse view camera and the Reverse Brake Assist are convenient when maneuvering backward with a bulky van like this. The latter uses the camera and sensors to detect pedestrians or cyclists and static obstacles behind the vehicle and will stop automatically if the driver doesn’t react in time after the warning. For the fleet owner, it should mean less body repair costs…

Starting at €56 825

The Ford Transit offers an extended range of variants, 25 in total with single or double cabin, chassis-cabin versions for customized conversions like cooled transport, with a gross weight ranging from 3,5 to 4,25 tons and a load capacity of 1 758 kg. It comes in two flavors (Base and Trend), starting at €56 825 in Belgium.

Conversions can go anywhere, up to very popular campers with 140 000 of them yearly made, based on the Transit. Winnebago, one of America’s most famous manufacturers of camper vans, has revealed its first battery-electric concept called the e-RV, based on an extensively reworked e-Transit. More will follow from camper builders around the world without a doubt.

Fast-charging at 115 kW

But in the first place, the Ford e-Transit will be a working horse, like its diesel siblings. To conquer range anxiety, the van can be charged at 11 kW with the onboard AC charger from 0 to 100% in around eight hours. DC Fast-charging is available up to 115 kW, suitable for going from 15% to 80% in approximately 34 minutes.

Another big issue in getting potential e-van drivers on board is the higher initial purchase price of the electric vehicle. But Ford claims that the total cost of ownership will prove to be lower in the end, with usage costs, repairs, and servicing 40% cheaper than its diesel siblings.

Next to the two-ton e-Transit, Ford will unveil four more pure electric vans in the near future, starting with the one-ton Transit Custom with a world premiere on May 9th, followed by the Tourneo Custom both for delivery in 2023, and the smaller Tourneo Courier in 2024.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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