GIVING IT LARGE!
As that famous other son of Essex, Ian Drury himself once sung, Ford has three good reasons to be cheerful about its new Ford E-Transit. Just don’t tell the blockheads!
Over the past few years, we have been invited to test drive most of what the commercial van world currently has to offer in terms of electrification but it’s fair to say that there was no obvious benchmark in terms of range, performance, and cost. That changed in the spring of 2022 when the mighty Ford entered the fray with the new E-Transit. The company has dominated the UK commercial van market for almost sixty years and was clearly in no hurry to rush in where angels fear to tread. Whereas many electric vans still feel like stop gap solutions based on obviously converted diesel powered products, the E-Transit gives the impression of having been developed as a fully authentic variant of what is obviously an already extremely strong product line up.
For a start, at around £48,000 plus VAT the basic E-Transit is significantly less expensive than its closest large van rivals and, with a targeted driving range overall of 156 miles, is also noticeably ahead of its rivals on this front as well. Interestingly, Ford, through extensive testing, has also established a dependable real-world range of at least 100 miles in any weather, with any payload, using a battery that’s already withstood five years of use. That transparency is welcome in a sector which still has many issues to address in terms of the range anxiety associated with low temperatures, motorway driving and fully laden vehicles.
With an option for 115kW fast charging, topping the 68kWh battery pack back up to 80% can take as little as 34 minutes, while slower AC charging will achieve 100% in 8 hours with a three-phase supply wall box at around 12 hours on a common home connection.
The choice of 25 variants can be bit of a minefield in determining which one is right for your business and, whilst all feature the same battery pack, there are two power options. Our test vehicle was the 184hp version and would appear more than adequate for most users, although an upgrade to 269hp is available at a price. Two trim levels, Leader and Trend are offered, and both have more standard equipment than the equivalent diesel models.
One of the highlights of these is the Ford Sync 4 infotainment system with a really impressive 12-in. touch screen which can keep you fully updated as to how the vehicle is performing at all times. We did find something of an overkill about the amount of ventilation options to further distract you whilst driving but it’s a minor gripe overall. There is a rotary dial to control the single speed transmission and an automatic electronic handbrake. All of the electric versions feature additional crash structures, one to protect the batteries, others to replicate the structural role played by the engine that would typically be under the bonnet but is now used to house a lot of the van’s control systems.
The Transit’s reputation for refinement and performance goes before it, of course, and you would have to say that in some respects the e version is even more polished. It’s extremely quick of the mark, even loaded, and reassuringly quiet and composed at speed thanks to a completely re-engineered rear suspension system with coil springs in place of the diesel’s live axle and leaf spring set up.
As with all electric vans, the e Transit can recover energy to recharge the batteries every time you lift off the accelerator. There is an L mode to heighten this effect, which takes a little getting used to, as opposed to the simple paddle system employed by some others although the process is far removed from the one pedal driving experience, where lifting the foot off can bring the vehicle to a rather disconcerting total stop.
An optional upgrade for the E-Transit, Pro Power Onboard allows you to use the 68-kWh drive Battery to power external electric equipment, something which one imagines would be an enormous plus point for those tradespeople working on site or rural locations. There are three plugs, one in the cab, two in the load area which delivers up to 2.3kW to a selection of tools. And fear not, the van is smart enough to warn you when you may be running out of sufficient juice to get home.
All the bits you would expect are covered by the same warranty as any other Transit although the electric drive gets a longer 100,000-mile warranty for extra peace of mind. With less to go wrong, Ford have also taken the step of introducing unlimited milage service intervals, but you will need to book in at a dealer every year.
Alongside the official launch of the E-Transit in 2022, Ford also announced the introduction of the Ford Pro concept, basically a complete eco system of support with everything from finance and telematics to servicing and charging infrastructure. Its available across the complete Ford commercial vehicle platform and is open to the one-man band right up to the muti vehicle fleet operator. In fact, you don’t even have to own a Ford to sign up. Even Mr Drury may have lost count by now!
For further information on the Ford Pro visit https://www.ford.co.uk/commercial-vehicles/discover/innovation/about-fordpro?searchid=ppc:Search_GB(eng)%7C%5BAO%5D_Fleet_SD_Brand_FordPro_CPPI_GBP%7CShp-T2%7CExact:FordPro-Exact:ford%20pro:e:c:g:GOOGLE&gad=1&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI4anW1_Db_gIVEt7tCh36CAVZEAAYASAAEgK04PD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
To find out more about the Ford E-Transit visit https://www.ford.co.uk/vans-and-pickups/e-transit?searchid=ppc:Search_GB(eng)%7C%5BAO%5D_Retail_SD_Commercial-Vehicles_E-Transit_CPPI_GBP%7CShp-T2%7CExact-RLSA:E-Transit-Exact:ford%20e-transit:e:c:g:GOOGLE&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIhaHP6_Db_gIV0NPtCh00fA7xEAAYASAAEgISYPD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds