By on October 29, 2020

Eager to prove itself as a forward thinking mobility brand, Ford has advised us to prepare for the debut of the battery powered E-Transit van on November 12th. Following some heavy teasing from CEO Jim Farley during the company’s third-quarter earnings call a day earlier, Blue Oval issued an official announcement on Thursday to be ready for the commercial vehicle poised to change the way it does vans.

We’ve heard this before. There was supposed to be a battery electric Transit Connect, developed in partnership with Azure Dynamics, coming to market for the 2011 model year. While a prototype existed and was driven around by numerous outlets who praised it for being incredibly normal, the car ended up being prohibitively expensive to manufacture and kind of underwhelming to live with. Range was an abysmal 56 miles (according to the EPA) and the van was only just barely capable of maintaining highway speeds. In the end, Ford handed the project over to Azure  which nixed the passenger model and sold a few thousand commercial versions to various U.S. bureaucracies, coastal power companies, AT&T and the Canada Post for a little under $60,000 a pop.

Azure then went bankrupt.

This week’s announcement is quite different, however. Ford has already started production on the first of what it claims will be many electric vehicles sold directly to Joe Public and is promising the kind of specs that make you think ‘well shucks, things might actually work out this time around.’

Though, like the smaller Transit Connect Electric built by Azure a decade earlier, Ford is again angling the larger E-Transit at the commercial market. Automakers are eager to convince fleet managers that EVs can save them a bundle on fuel and maintenance fees while also trying to push their new software and telematics services. Previous announcements have indicated that the manufacturer would be offering the van in all of the most popular sizes and body styles  including cargo van, cutaway and chassis cab.

Assembly is supposed to commence at the Kansas City Assembly Plant with the first examples hitting the ground late in 2021. The E-Transit is assumed to launch as a 2022 model year vehicle and will have have access to the FordPass charging network.

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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21 Comments on “Ford Says Electric Transit Vans Are Coming for Real This Time...”

  • avatar

    Commercial will be the real indicator of the economics of battery electric. Sure there’s a lot of virtue signalling (Amazon commercials) but lets see how many of these are in the fleet five years down the road.
    My UPS delivery is still coming in a gas truck with a GM LS motor.

    • 0 avatar

      My UPS today was in a rented uhaul. I was suspicious when they showed up at the door.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      Companies shouldn’t be allowed to tell the public that they’re taking steps that please most customers, but upset most conservatives.

      All companies should contribute to a pro-Trump message. Ban all divergent messages and opposing parties.

      • 0 avatar

        Ol Shel,

        Please inject your political opinion into every topic.

        Thank you.

        • 0 avatar

          I’d say Indifan did it first with the “virtue signaling” comment. Anyone who’s on this site knows what that denotes. We’ve seen countless posts from people with a conservative bent using that like a pejorative. Of course, they ignore that people who buy gas-swilling, bully-faced trucks are virtue signaling too – the difference, of course, being that the crowd who mocks virtue signaling agrees with the flag-waving, “Freedom ‘N Whiskey” virtue, which the companies who sell these vehicles make sure to feature prominently in their marketing.

          Cleary, if you drive an electric car, you don’t believe in America…or so these guys seem to think. Whatever.

          But I digress.

          As far as electric vans being a “virtue signaling” move is concerned, there’s only one virtue being signaled by these two for-profit enterprises here: dollar signs. Ford thinks it’ll make money selling these vans, and Amazon thinks they’ll make money using them. Period. If it helps their “let’s save the world” PR, then that’s sauce for the goose.

          If the “I hate virtue signaling” crowd can’t handle that, then all I can do is shake my head.

          • 0 avatar

            I disagree. I think companies cutting ads and making pledges about “doing xxxx by xxxx” while not actually doing it and then receiving no critical follow up is a problem. If you don’t want to call it “virtual signaling” then call it something else but I don’t find corporate *words* particularly impressive.

            It’s like all the companies that made those diversity pledges a few months ago. Is anyone actually going to hold them accountable for what they said?

          • 0 avatar

            @ajla – corporate bulls**t is just that…bulls**t. I don’t put much stock in it. But it’s what corporations do as part of their marketing. But if a company is saying “hey, we’re making a commitment to doing EVs because it’s the right thing to do for the planet,” and they’re actually doing that, then I don’t see the issue.

          • 0 avatar

            “…if you drive an electric car, you don’t believe in America…”

            If you believe in “America” (as in, the mythical, no longer even remotely existing “land of the free” one…), you drive whatever you want.

            But you sure don’t “believe” in products which wouldn’t be viable at all, absent rather arbitrary government promotion. Nor in cheering on the use of government’s guns, to force others to toil in coal-mines to pay for you to drive your particular favorite car around bankster-, and taxfeeder-, -topias. In “For Party Members Only” lanes, to boot.

            Yes, and neither do you believe in forcing others to toil in those same coal mines, to fund construction of bomb craters in oil rich regions halfway around the world.

            But then again, after a hundred years of near universal, government funded public indoctrination; there’s simply not an awful lot of belief left anywhere, in “America.” A leas not as anything more than just another run of the mill, totalitarian, sh%$^$hole.

  • avatar

    Delivery vans are the most logical use of battery electric. Good idea for local delivery in a manageable radius of the home business location, lots of start-stop when in use for good efficiency. A wiser use of battery electric at the current time than general population vehicles needing to operate over significant distances from home.

    • 0 avatar

      “A wiser use of battery electric at the current time than general population vehicles needing to operate over significant distances from home.”

      Why? Modern EVs can operate significant distances from home without a problem. You can go coast to coast with one. A Tesla Model S Plaid is on the Tesla website with 520+ miles range. Sure, it’ll be more than a year before you’d get it if you order it today, but let’s use it for an example.

      At normal highway speeds, let’s say you only get 450 miles range out of it. That’s Boston to Washington DC. At least 7.5 hours of driving in one shot. I’ve made that trip a few times. My ICE car didn’t have the range (idling in stop and go traffic in CT and NYC) and I had to stop for gas. The EV can make it non-stop even with the traffic issues. Plenty of hotels in DC with Tesla destination chargers so I’d have a fully charged car in the morning. I’d even get to the hotel sooner since I wouldn’t have to stop to get gas like with my ICE cars.

      Let say you were making a longer trip. Would it really be that much of a pain to stop for an hour for a charge at a 250 or 350 kW supercharger after driving 7.5 hours? Not as quick as a gas car, but after 7.5 hours, is an hour of rest such a bad thing? Chances are, you might have stopped for breaks during that drive anyway and could have picked up some partial charges to shorten that hour anyway.

      The argument that EVs can’t be operated long-distance is seriously outdated. It was a challenge with 80-mile range cars and 50 kW quick charging (although I still did it), but with 250 to 500-mile range cars and 250 to 350 kW supercharging, it’s not a problem.

      The Model S will be the first to hit 520 mile EPA range. It won’t be the last. It is just 2020 (well, probably early 2022 for the Plaid) we’re up to 520 miles from 80 miles range on the first Leaf 10 years prior to the Plaid. The long-range 2-motor will probably be even longer range than that. Where are we going to be in 2025 to 2030? Lots of battery technology in the pipeline. Some of it most likely fiction or will fail to be mass-producible, but some of it will make through. Gravimetric and volumetric density increasing. Costs falling.

      • 0 avatar

        I believe that I wrote “at the current time” regarding general population vehicles. Granted Tesla has been around for some time but ownership of these are don’t seem to be “general population” folks in that current owners trend toward fairly upper middle class at a higher income level than a larger majority of the population, the owners/operators of nice, desirable mid-range model ICE vehicles that take the kids to school, go on family trips, take folks to work various distances with little maintenance or thought other than watching the gas gauge. The battery-electrics currently or in the near future available at the price these folks could comfortably afford are not Tesla-level vehicles and, while maybe cutting edge in economy and emissions, are smaller with less luxurious appointments. Bolts don’t sell well not just because the dealer upsold customers to something else but because its just not a desirable vehicle. Commercial delivery vehicles are the logical choice for wider introduction of battery-electric – let the companies running these commercial vehicles be the beta-testers for advancing battery-electric tech and be the rolling advertisements for the general population to see. Increased sales of commercial vehicles will help drive down pricing to Joe Sixpack’s financial comfort level through economy of scale by producing proven, safe, and reliable electric underpinnings that could be shared in a nicer, larger, and more desirable personal vehicle. YMMV

        • 0 avatar

          I think bullnuke’s right on target here.

          Widespread EV adoption in America won’t happen with the current product mix, which is basically luxury cars (Tesla, Porsche, etc) and dorky-looking compacts. Clearly Americans like EV luxury cars (which is why Teslas sell, and every other manufacturer in the world is bringing out Tesla competitors), but that’s not a huge slice of the market. Americans don’t like Bolts and Leafs, and I think that’s because Americans don’t like small cars in general – they like trucks and SUVs.

          Introducing EV commercial vehicles is the first step to electrifying those trucks and SUVs – it’ll allow manufacturers to sell higher priced vehicles in volume, amortize the tech, and make the next wave of vehicles cheaper.

        • 0 avatar

          @bullnuke: Yeah, you’re definitely right about the working class. I admit that I don’t have much exposure to that world. The Bolt has a great price, but it’s small and not for everyone. It also doesn’t help that good EVs with decent range have low depreciation.

          If battery charging tech keeps advancing, I think we’ll see EVs become more common among the working class.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        A model S “plaid” is a 140,000 dollar automobile.

        • 0 avatar

          “A model S “plaid” is a 140,000 dollar automobile.”

          Yes it is, but the technology is there and it does in fact have the ability to go 500+ miles. Furthermore, the battery techology it’s using is actually cheaper and probably lighter than what is in cars currently. Eventually, those batteries will move to the lower end models. If they are lighter, you’ll get an increase in efficiency and could use a smaller battery for a given range and effectively increase the “miles-per-hour” charge rate of a car.

      • 0 avatar

        As has been pointed out the Model S Plaid is extremely expensive, at over $100K more than the average new vehicle price. Now 500+ mile ranges should trickle down to more affordable things over time, but how long will that take?

        The supercharger network is impressive but it is still not as ubiquitous as it needs to be in many parts of the country. It also only services Teslas so someone in a Bolt or Polestar will have to hope that “Arnie’s Apple Cider Mill” or an unfamiliar shopping mall somewhere actually has an available and functioning level 2 charger.

        • 0 avatar

          ” a Bolt or Polestar will have to hope that “Arnie’s Apple Cider Mill” or an unfamiliar shopping mall somewhere actually has an available and functioning level 2 charger.”

          Not true. For one thing, ChargePoint and EA have a growing network of 350+kW chargers that even Tesla’s can use. You also use an app or the cars navigation system to locate a charging station, it’s status, and how busy it is. It’s not a matter of hoping some place has one.

          • 0 avatar

            I just tried “A Better Route” for Daytona, FL to Gaylord, MI with a Bolt starting at a 100% SOC, max speed 80 mph, good weather. It mostly has me stopping at Wal-Marts for EA chargers but it also has me going to a Posrche dealer, a nonchain supermarket, and something called “Blarney’s Castle”.

            Maybe the biggest issue though is 11 charges for *9 extra hours* according to the planner. If I switch to a 2020 Model 3 LR it drops to 6 charges for 2.5 extra hours and every charger is owned by Tesla. If you consider gas/lunch stops with my ICE car that’s pretty close to parity unless I’m really cannon-balling.

  • avatar

    Everything’s up to date in Kansas City.

  • avatar
    David Cardillo

    …what a tease…..

  • avatar

    I’m a small business owner who currently drives big Nissan NV2500 High Roof V8. It’s an excellent van but I can’t wait for something electric. There is NO way my costs to charge will be near the gargantuan amount I currently spend driving 30,000 miles a year, in the gas Nissan. With hope, the Ford Transit electric will be dependable and have a good range. I also can’t wait to have a full “tank” every morning. Hurry up Ford.

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