While others (we’re looking at you, GM) are touting splashy new electric vehicles like the Hummer electric pickup truck that starts at $112,000, Ford is down in the trenches, preparing to sell electric vehicles that work for a living instead of posing for selfies outside swanky country clubs.
The vehicles used by tradespeople and delivery companies have an outsize impact on carbon emissions from the transportation sector compared to the number of them on the road. Why? Because most private vehicles are only used an hour or two a day. Working vehicles are more likely to be in constant use throughout the work day. More use means more miles driven and more emissions spewing out of tailpipes.
Electric vehicles appeal strongly to those who understand the term “total cost of ownership.” If you make your living delivering packages or driving to job sites, every fill-up, oil change, tuneup, and repair is money out of your pocket. Electric vehicles have lower fuel and maintenance costs, which leaves more left over for the one metric that everyone understands — profits.
Ford will begin deliveries of its E-Transit battery electric delivery and cargo vans in North America in 2022. In a recent press release, it says it has inquiries about the trucks from 450 commercial customers in North America, including 200 top fleets and fleet management companies. Now those companies can register their signify their interest by sign on to the Ford commercial vehicle website. No deposit is required to join the list of potential customers. The company plans to begin accepting orders in June.
“We’ve had so much interest early on, we wanted to open this registration site to serve customers with a build mix for their needs across all van body styles,” says Ted Cannis, general manager of Ford’s North American commercial division. “Some customers want high-roof vans to maximize internal cargo space, while others need to install bodies on cutaways and chassis cabs. Customers will have an all-electric solution — from box truck delivery to parking structure-friendly utility service vans and everything in between.”
Ford’s market research indicates interest in electric vans is growing. By 2030, it expects electric vehicles to represent 70% of the full size bus and van business in the US. That translates to about 300,000 vehicles annually. The E-Transit will be built at Ford’s factory in Kansas City alongside traditional gasoline powered versions. The E-Transit will be available in 8 configurations. As a cargo van it will be offered with three different roof heights and three wheelbase lengths. It will also be available as a chassis cab or cutaway model.
The E-Transit offers the same cargo dimensions and standard mounting points as the gasoline powered van. That means fleets can continue to use the same upfits, racks, bins, and accessories that fit the conventional vans, which will save customers even more money.
Ford says its research shows the customers most strongly interested in purchasing an E-Transit van are companies that deliver wholesale goods and packages from groceries to replacement parts. In addition, equipment rental companies; local, state and federal government agencies; and utility and telecommunications companies are also strongly interested. Customers have told Ford they plan to use E-Transit for recreational vehicles, school buses, automotive service, carpet cleaning, service vans, and other commercial applications. More unusual applications include armored car services, blood donation units, and prisoner transport.
The starting price for a low roof Ford E-Transit with a 67 kWh battery and 126 miles of range is $43,295 before available incentives. Based on more than 30 million miles of data, the company says the average Transit vans travels 74 miles a day. The top price of the E-Transit is $52,690. Both prices are significantly lower than anticipated last fall when Ford first announced its plans to build the E-Transit in the US.
“Customers should be thrilled to see that the starting price is well under what we announced at the E-Transit reveal in November,” says Cannis. “We want to make these products accessible and turnkey because, as the trusted leader we are today, we know customers need electric products that fit their business – not the other way around.” Ford estimates the E-Transit will cost 40% less to operate than a convention van over 8 years and an anticipated 100,000 miles of service. The E-Transit can be serviced at more than 600 Ford dealers in North America.
Pro Power Onboard
All E-Transit vans will be available with the Pro Power Onboard option that turns the vehicle into a mobile generator with up to 2.4 kilowatts of available power to help customers use and recharge job site tools ranging from belt sanders to miter saws. Using a standard embedded modem, Ford’s SYNC 4 capability makes software subscriptions possible to help fleets manage charging transactions, telematics services, and the like.
Ford will be bringing early production E-Transit vans to job sites and in communities across North America this summer as Ford begins a pilot program that will allow potential customers test the electric van to see how it fits their business needs.
Electric vans are not sexy. You won’t see Car and Driver or Fully Charged doing devoting a lot of time to reviewing them. Nor will you see YouTube videos of them drag racing against Ferraris and Lamborghinis. But they are where the essential changeover from fossil fuels to electricity must take place if we are to have any hope of taming the challenge of a warming planet.
Ford has been criticized for not moving fast enough on the electric car front, but its efforts to get electric vans on the road should be recognized. Sexy is not always important and what is important is not always sexy. Ford had elected to spend some of the $22 billion it intends to invest in electric vehicles by 2025 to bring battery powered work vans to market. It has been a leader in commercial truck sales for more than 4 decades and is bringing all that experience to bear as it transitions to manufacturing electric work vehicles.
The good news is, the E-Transit will help convince drivers why electric vehicles are superior while the total operating expenses will convince others that electric vehicles are cheaper to fuel and cheaper to maintain. The only people who don’t like electric vehicles are people who have never experienced an electric vehicle. The E-Transit will play an important role in moving the EV revolution forward.
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