The all-electric 2022 Ford E-Transit made its debut today with a fleet-focused suite of features and pricing. The real news is more than just the van, however. This is a big deal — not only for Ford but also commercial fleets.
So, what is the E-Transit? It’s basically exactly what you think it is: a battery-electric version of Ford’s lineup of commercial vans. These vans come in variety of roof heights and are customizable through a network of upfitters.
The 2022 E-Transit keeps these customization options by placing the battery pack along the floor to keep the cargo room the same as a gasoline-powered van. It will start for less than $45k and have a max range of 126 miles. Also, Ford is adding Sync4 with a 12-inch screen and a host of software for fleet managers to track their vehicles and drivers. Finally, the on-board generator (yes, not an inverter) is available with 2.4 kilowatts of available power.
If you missed the news, check out the official press release.
Now, why do I think this is a big deal?
1. Commercial dealers, service centers, already in place
One of the things I keep hearing about electric vehicles is how great they are and how they are going to change the world. However, nobody seems to talk much about the practically of owing an EV. I mean, how do you get it serviced, where do you go for parts, and why would one passenger car really make a difference for solving global pollution emissions?
While a variety of companies building EVs is good for innovation, I’m much more excited when a full-line manufacturer the size of Ford gets in the game. This makes a lot more sense over boutique companies trying to build up their own network of service centers. Ford already has a network, it has a proven business model, and it can deliver.
The fact of the matter is Ford has more than 1,800 global commercial vehicle dealers with 645 here in the U.S., and about 90% of those are electric vehicle-certified. It also has a strong relationship with upfitters who are ready to modify these vans to customer needs with 13 of them within 30 miles of the plant. This means, you can literally order a van to fit your specific needs and have it delivered to a dealer in your area.
This along with a good warranty and a strong reputation for quality products — ask anyone about the old Econoline lineup — means we could finally see a more widespread adoption of electric vehicles than anything Tesla or others have been able to accomplish for years.
2. Range is right on the target for 2022 Ford E-Transit
I predict you will see this all over the internet: “126 miles of range? What a joke!!!” However, this statement is from an uninformed person, who doesn’t really understand this vehicle. Here’s why.
This van is neither a long-haul solution nor for consumers. It is, quite simply, a purpose-built vehicle to fulfill a specific application.
Most pollution generated in this country from tailpipe emissions is through commercial vehicles. Think about all the miles buses, semi trucks, delivery vans, etc., drive every day and how much pollution they create. Sorry, a Prius or other hybrid isn’t doing much to reduce emissions. But an electric van will start to address these needs.
Much like Toyota’s hydrogen fuel-cell semi is reducing emissions on a grand scale in the busy commercial ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, replacing your cable repair man’s van with an EV solution will make an immediate impact in the cities.
Yes, you read that right: cities. This isn’t a rural van meant for hundreds of miles of driving. It is van built for city environments where there is a pre-determined daily route or daily driving is in the 74-mile range as Ford states most of their fleet customers use. This range along with the 3,800 pounds of max payload — 4,290 pounds for cutaway versions — is going to offer the right amount of hauling needs and range for a large variety of fleets –like beverage delivery services such as PepsiCo.
3. Pro Power Onboard is huge
Speaking of being a purpose built van for the right customer, offering an on-board generator with 2.4 kilowatts of capacity is going to make this a great solution for customers who do handyman work, heating and cooling, fence building and landscaping — all those small businesses that can work outside and have small jobs they need to do.
For these customers, the van’s cargo room is similar to a midsize truck with a topper and the hauling capability of a heavy-duty truck. This makes it the right size for most of their jobs and reducing fuel usage dramatically makes a lot of sense for increasing profit.
4. Reducing downtime
Another real-world benefit is reducing downtime for commercial customers. While consumers can schedule maintenance such as oil changes, tune ups and belt replacements, removing a vehicle from a fleet for maintenance costs businesses revenue they could be generating. The fact is, they need all their vehicles and crews working at all times to return maximum profit. This E-Transit can better help them in this regard.
While we still only have studies and few real-world examples to draw from, common sense tells you an EV should have less maintenance due to less parts.
For fleets, they could transition away from time-consuming maintenance items and really just be focused on swapping tires and brakes as needed at a longer interval than oil changes. This will allow them to see an immediate benefit for reduced downtime.
According to Ford.com, the 2020 Ford Transit commercial van starts at $34,510. Ford says the new E-Transit will start at less than $45,000 before any Federal tax credits. Finally, an all-electric vehicle for the working class.
With just more than a $10k price difference, the return on investment should be a relatively quick when you look at total cost of ownership — including fuel purchases and maintenance. Plus, there are the added benefits of the onboard generator and a good amount of performance with 266 horsepower/198 kilowatts of power and 317 pound-feet of torque.
Also, this van will be whisper quiet, reducing noise pollution for the driver as well as the community. Yes, the bustling noise of a city could be less noisy, and that’s a big win for everyone.
The one big miss
As you can tell, I’m a big fan of this approach, and I’ve long thought the way to reduce emissions and noise pollution is to start with commercial vehicles and then adapt them to consumers. Plus, we will see a more dramatic reduction in emissions through electric vans, trucks and SUVs rather than a few feel-good sedans. What then, do I think Ford missed on? Simple, a hybrid or plug-in hybrid variant.
Ford plans to offer an electric F-150 in the coming year, which will likely be targeted for commercial customers as well. However, it has already launched a hybrid F-150, which seems to be the real deal combining electrified driving with its 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine as well as the built-in generator in the bed for not much more money than a stock F-150 with the same engine. I’m a big fan of trying this out, and I’m currently trying to buy one for the channel.
A hybrid or PHEV gives you the range of a gasoline vehicle while providing lower emissions when driving around town. It seems to me, this would a perfect solution to offer alongside the E-Transit to provide another choice or way for fleets to go green by dipping their toes into the electric world before fully committing to a pure electric vehicle.
Ford is offering such a solution in Europe, and it seems like a no-brainer to take this same technology and offer it in this van.
The E-Transit should hit dealer lots late in 2021. Expect full pricing to come in the first half of 2021.