The second installment in Ford’s $11.5 billion investment in electrification is scheduled to hit the road in late 2021. The 2022 Ford Electric Transit, or E-Transit will follow this fall’s Mach-E and precede the electric F-150, which is scheduled for mid-2022. The Transit has been a global best seller for much of its 55-year life with over 10 million sold, and the new fully electric variant will ensure that it can continue to deliver goods and services as dense metropolitan areas transition to emissions-free zones. And Ford’s unique selling proposition in a burgeoning electric cargo van market that will soon be joined by the Rivian Amazon Prime Van and Bollinger Deliver-E van is its Sync 4-based Connected Fleet Management Tools and decades in the commercial vehicle space.
Electric Powertrain, And 126 Miles Of Range
Although the Transit is sold globally with a choice of front-, rear-, or all-wheel drive, the North American E-Transit, which will be built at Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, MO, will be rear-drive only. Its DC permanent-magnet electric motor is mounted under the cargo floor and produces 266 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque. The electric components are all related to Mach-E parts, which provides scale to make the E-Transit more affordable.
It’s powered by a 67-kWh battery pack that is also mounted beneath the cargo floor so as not to impinge at all on cargo space. It’s way too early to have official EPA ratings on energy use and range, but Ford is targeting 126 miles of range for the low-roof cargo van variant. (The high-roof models’ greater frontal area is sure to lower that figure, but by how much is unknown.) And all the electric gear is warrantied for 8 years or 100,000 miles.
Up to 180-MPH Charging*
*Why the asterisk? We’re being cheeky, that’s why. Ford claims that using a 115-plus-kW DC fast charger, the E-Transit can add 30 miles of range in 10 minutes and approximately 45 miles of range in 15 minutes (as with almost all EVs, the charging rate slows as battery approaches a full charge). The charging rate plunges with more conventional AC charging: using the 240-volt Level 2 Ford Mobile Charger adds about 10 miles per hour, while using a Ford Connected Charge Station brings the number up to approximately 15 miles per charging hour, completing a full charge from near empty in 8 hours. The charge port is in the lower center of the grille, which identifies the E-Transit with three blue horizontal bars.
It’ll Be a Mobile Generator
Tradespeople in need of commercial vehicles often utilize electric tools that can benefit from onboard AC electric power, and the E-Transit can export up to 2.4 kW of power to recharge tool batteries in transit or to power tools at the job site. That won’t power an arc welder, but it’s more than sufficient for belt sanders and circular saws. The 2021 Ford F-150 PowerBoost hybrid offers 2.4 kW of exportable power that can be upgraded to 7.2 kW with a 240-volt plug for those who need more power, but the van market’s typical upfit packages don’t draw more than 1-2 kW today, and heavier loads would threaten vehicle range. The electronics for this power export function reside under the front hood, along with the spare wheel, DC-DC converter, and charging hardware.
An Independent Rear Suspension(!)
The regular Transit’s live axle and leaf springs are ditched in favor of a coil-sprung semi-trailing-arm rear suspension that permits the motor and rear differential to be mounted directly to the chassis, as it made little sense to add the mass and potential vibration of the drive shaft that would have been required to make the existing live-axle suspension work. Ford claims this is the first heavy duty independent rear suspension in a commercial van. This setup ultimately limited the gross vehicle weight rating to that of the gasoline T-350 with single rear wheels (9,500 pounds), and the gross axle-weight rating for the rear is 6,000 pounds. (The strut front suspension carries over from the gas Transit.)
3 Lengths, 3 Heights, 487.3 Cubic Feet, 3,800-Pound Payload
With all the powertrain under the floor, there’s nothing to cut into the Transit’s cargo area, and Ford intends to offer eight body styles, including three body lengths and three roof heights, with the largest variant offering an identical 487.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front row as its gas-powered sibling. All feature a two-passenger cabin and a right-hand sliding door. Payload is said to max out at 3,800 pounds, or 4,290 pounds with the cutaway or bare chassis cab. A new rotary shifter and electric parking brake free up space in the lower center of the dash, making it easier to maneuver between the front and rear of the van.
Connected Fleet Management Tools
Ford’s telematics connectivity suite of fleet management tools promises to help fleet operators keep tabs on the performance of individual vans, manage energy usage of the fleet, and gain key insights into total performance. Using EV-specific info like instantaneous and cumulative energy consumption, charge speeds, distance to empty, etc., managers can better optimize overall running costs and fleet uptime. The system also provides billing access to 13,500 charging stations across the U.S. including DC fast-chargers. Tools also enable remote cabin pre-conditioning, so fleet operators can optimize cabin temperatures while E-Transit is plugged in to optimize battery efficiency. With the built-in navigation enabled, the E-Transit can benefit from Ford Co-Pilot360 features like Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Speed Sign Recognition and Intelligent Speed Assist, which detects speed limits and adjust speed accordingly. Other features designed to minimize driver-based insurance claims, including lane-keeping, Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, blind spot warning and assist, a 360-degree camera, and (new to Transit) reverse brake assist.
Alerts can notify managers when a vehicle fails to get plugged in when it’s scheduled to be, while other tools let them remotely manage payment for public charging or reimbursement for employees who charge at home. Driver coaching tutorials can be displayed on the large 12-inch touch screen, and audible suggestions can also be made to the driver, to warn of exceeding speed limits, accelerating or braking too hard, or leaving the climate controls running when parked and failing to wear a seat belt. These transgressions can also be reported to the fleet manager. Of course the system will also notify the fleet manager if a vehicle is potentially being stolen, used without authorization, is being towed, or gets damaged while parked. And if a vehicle goes missing, GPS tracking can locate it.
How Much Will the E-Transit Cost?
We’ll get a lot more information about the breadth of the E-Transit lineup and its pricing and efficiency during the year to come before its launch, but for now Ford is telling us that pricing will start at “less than $45,000.” Figure in the estimated 40 percent reduction in maintenance and repair cost of an electric drivetrain (owing mostly to its 90 percent reduction in moving parts), then consider that Ford currently has 1,800 commercial vehicle dealers and 645 service centers scattered across the U.S. (how long will it take Rivian or Bollinger to match that?), and we can imagine the E-Transit penciling out quite nicely for lots of fleet owners whose vans don’t typically venture more than 100 miles in a day.
|SPECIFICATIONS||2022 Ford E-Transit|
|Base Price||$45,000 (est)|
|Layout||Mid-motor, RWD, 2-pass, 3-door van|
|Motor||266-hp/317-lb-ft DC permanent-magnet electric|
|Curb weight||5,600 lb (est )|
|L x W x H||217.8-263.9 x 81.3 x 82.3-108.6 in|
|0-60 mph||8.0-9.0 sec (MT est)|
|EPA fuel econ||Not yet rated; 126-mile range (est)|
|On sale||Fall 2021|
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