Ford E-Transit electric van priced from just £42,695

  • Pricing and specification revealed for new electric Transit van
  • Will be the most powerful van of any kind available in the UK
  • Lots of power, lots of payload, orderbooks open in October

Ford has announced more technical details and the first pricing information for the E-Transit electric van as it makes its UK debut at the 2021 CV Show. The first full-production Ford electric van, the E-Transit won't actually go on sale until spring 2022, but order books open in October 2021, when it will be priced from a stunningly competitive £42,695 excluding VAT.

While Ford's first electric van has been a long time coming (and still isn't here yet), it seems that in taking its time, the blue oval has been able to build an electric Transit that already has solutions for the typical electric van problems.

For instance, with a targeted driving range of 196 miles per charge WLTP, it offers plenty of distance between charges, while maximum payload is set to be 1,758kg and maximum power an enormous 269hp - with a second, less powerful motor option still delivering 183hp.

Ford E-Transit electric van at the 2021 CV Show, rear view, silver

One of the major stars of the 2021 Commercial Vehicle Show, the Ford E-Transit is promising sensational performance, while the real-world trial with a series of key business types should ensure it lives up to expectations.

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What is the Ford E-Transit?

The E-Transit is a 100% electric version of the Ford Transit large van. It will be sold in 25 different variants spread across panel van, double-cab-in-van (DCiV) and chassis cab.

Ford E-Transit electric van, European prototypes driving

There will be a choice of lengths and roof heights, plus gross vehicle mass (GVM, also known as gross vehicle weight or GVW) options up to 4.25 tonnes.

With the batteries stored under the body, panel van load volume will be 9.5-15.1 cubic metres, matching the current conventional rear-wheel drive diesel Transit models.

Existing racking designs will be transferable, and plenty of conversion options will be available, just as they are for standard Transits. Many of these are being tested during the customer trial.

Visually, it looks similar to a diesel Transit but with slightly tweaked detailing, including the bold blue elements in the grille. On the inside there's a new rotary gear selector for the single-speed transmission, and an electric parking brake.

>> The best electric vans you can buy now

What makes the E-Transit worth waiting for?

Two headline figures jump out from the electric Transit's spec – the outrageous 269hp rating for the electric motor and the projected 196-mile driving range. That range figure is actually a slight reduction from earlier projections of 217 miles per charge, but still beats the Fiat E-Ducato's 175-mile max.

Add to that a payload capacity of up to 1,758kg and the E-Transit is surely set to be a serious player in the electric van market.

As if that wasn’t enough, Ford has also added some extra tricks in the form of a high-tech electric vehicle telematics monitoring system and ProPower Onboard – the ability to use some of the E-Transit’s battery energy to power tools and equipment.

How powerful is the Ford E-Transit?

We've known for a while that the E-Transit will offer a maximum power option of 198kW, equivalent to a staggering 269hp. But at the 2021 CV Show, Ford announced a second, less-powerful motor will also be available; with 135kW, this is equivalent to 183hp, almost identical to the most powerful 185hp diesel Transits you can buy today.

The 269hp model, on the other hand, is far beyond the maximum power output of any other large van model presently on sale in the UK. The best any rival electric large van can do at the moment is 136hp from the Volkswagen e-Crafter (and these aren't yet for sale in right-hand drive, and won't be until at least after the Crafter is facelifted, which we're now expecting in 2022).

Ford E-Transit electric van, European prototype driving, power output

Put this together with 430Nm of instant torque, and the E-Transit is going to have sensational performance. Or perhaps a better way to put it is that it will have performance to spare – which should work out very well for the real-world driving range, if not the lifespan of the tyres.

We joke about that, but we know that Ford had to fine-tune the power delivery of the Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid to reduce excessive wear caused by the instant torque of its much less powerful 126hp electric motor. The Custom is front-wheel drive (FWD) mind you, whereas the E-Transit is rear-wheel drive (RWD) for maximum carrying capacity and traction.

The electric motor is mounted under the van at the back, which together with the battery pack means the E-Transit gets bespoke independent rear suspension in place of the old-fashioned (but strong) leaf springs diesel Transits use.

Unsurprisingly, the suspension redesign is said to improve steering precision and deliver better traction no matter to what extent the van is loaded. Considering the Transit is already one of the best large vans to drive, the electric Transit could prove an absolute riot.

What’s the driving range?

We’re a little way off full verification, but Ford says that the projected official driving range of the 68kW battery pack in the E-Transit will be 196 miles per charge. That’s according to WLTP standards, too.

Ford reckons this is considerably more than the daily mileage most Transit vans do in working conditions, but that it deliberately wanted to build-in some additional capacity in case a vehicle is unexpectedly required to carry out a longer journey. And to cover range variations caused by different weather.

The battery technology is the same as that used in the Ford Mustang Mach-E electric SUV.

Ford E-Transit, plugged in to charge, close-up of charging port in front grille

While extra batteries will make the van heavier (reducing payload) and more expensive, we suspect most customers will appreciate this redundancy.

What’s more, Ford says the E-Transit’s Eco Mode setting (one of three driving modes) will bring an 8-10% improvement in energy usage – that’s unladen but driven with ‘spirited acceleration’ and at motorway speeds, which typically take chunks out of electric van range. This will work by limiting top speed, acceleration and the climate control.

We also believe that having such a powerful motor will help the E-Transit deliver great real-world driving range because you won’t need to use the motor to the maximum to make decent progress.

Ford has made no mention of any other battery size options, whether smaller and cheaper with a shorter range and higher payload, or larger and more expensive with a larger range but lower payload.

Is it going to take ages to charge?

The E-Transit comes with AC and DC charging. The 11.3kW on-board AC charger can charge the batteries to 100% in 8.2 hours, which means if you plug it in overnight it should be fully ready to go in the morning.

A 115kW DC rapid charger will give you a 15% to 80% top up in around 34 minutes.

Will it be expensive to run?

This will partly depend on how you charge it. There are electric vehicle charging tariffs available now that will make replenishing the E-Transit extremely cost-effective – much more so per mile than a diesel model. But if you’re forced to rely on public charging it probably won't be cheap.

Still, Ford is suggesting that servicing and maintenance costs should be ‘approximately 40%’ lower for the electric Transit versus a diesel model.

Ford believes it will only need to see the E-Transit only once a year, regardless of mileage, a class-leading service schedule supported by all that pre-launch testing and the ability of the van to alert owners to pressing problems via its connectivity systems.

The battery pack will be covered by an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty.

How does the E-Transit payload compare with a diesel Transit?

Extremely well, as it turns out. The most recent diesel Transit data we have reveals that the maximum payload for a panel van at 3.5 tonnes GVM is 1,474kg.

The E-Transit's maximum panel van payload figure is 1,758kg - going up to 2,090kg as a chassis cab.

Ford E-Transit electric van, European prototypes parked outside Dunton

And although with a 4.25t GVM that seems like cheating when the maximum GVM for a standard UK driving licence is now 3.5t, there's an exception in UK regulations that allows 4.25t 'alternative fuel' vehicles to be used as if they were 3.5t vehicles in some circumstances.

With nearly 300kg more payload capacity than a diesel Transit that can be driven on an equivalent licence, the E-Transit could prove more cost-effective than you think, even with its higher purchase price.

And that's before you consider the lower servicing costs, reduced downtime and cheaper cost per mile that the E-Transit offers.

What does the ProPower Onboard system do?

The Ford E-Transit’s ProPower Onboard is an optional extra that will allow customers to use up to 2.3kW of the battery pack to power tools and equipment. Which could save you from having to haul a generator around.

Ford E-Transit Electric van, rear view, working with tools

ProPower Onboard can be used at the job site or while on the move, and as one of the trial prototypes proves, it even provides enough juice to power a refrigeration unit for a grocery delivery van. The Transit Custom PHEV and the F-150 Lightning electric pickup have a similar system.

And the new electric vehicle telematics?

An extension of existing Ford Commercial Solutions services such as Ford Telematics, this is aimed at big fleet operations, and will allow fleet managers to see precisely how efficient (or not) the electric vehicles on fleet are performing – right down to viewing the kWh battery consumption of individual E-Transits.

Ford E-Transit electric van, European prototype outside Dunton, side view

In addition to this, fleet managers will be able to remotely set the climate control pre-conditioning, see the charging speed, the remaining driving range and more – all in real time. There will even be notification options to alert if an electric van hasn’t been plugged in on schedule as well.

For the drivers, perhaps the most important element will be to do with managing payments for charging – both in terms of paying for the transaction at public chargers and reimbursing employees for the cost of charging the E-Transit at home.

Anything else we need to know?

The E-Transit will benefit from the latest Ford Sync 4 infotainment system – which includes a 12.0-inch touchscreen and a whole host of connectivity services.

Ford E-Transit Electric van, cab interior

A lot of this will be familiar from the things you can do with FordPass Pro and Sync 3, but intriguing additional features include real-time driver coaching to improve vehicle efficiency, and therefore driving range. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will be available via wireless connection, too.

Ford E-Transit pricing, on-sale date and specification

As well as revealing that prices will start from £42,695 - substantially less than any rival large electric van - and confirming the first vehicles will be delivered in spring 2022, Ford has announced that order books will open in October 2021 and the first trim level specification details.

The E-Transit will come in two trim levels: Base and Trend.

Even Base models get the 12.0-inch Sync 4 system, keyless start, heated seats, QuickClear heated windscreen, heated door mirrors, a lifetime subscription to FordPass Pro or Ford Telematics Essentials, and a year of access to the FordPass charging network. Fleet customers also get a 12-month subscription to Ford Telematics.

Upgrade to Trend, and extra kit includes Ford Connected Navigation, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist.

What are the rivals?

In the UK, rivals are currently the Fiat E-DucatoMaxus e Deliver 9Mercedes-Benz eSprinter and Renault Master ZE – though by the time the E-Transit arrives the Peugeot e-BoxerCitroen e-RelayVauxhall Movano-e will also be on sale, with the VW e-CrafterMAN eTGE and the Arrival electric van set to appear soon, too.

We've got a full and constantly updated list of all future electric vans, if you need more info.

At the moment, the Ford looks the pick of the bunch, if customers are prepared to wait until 2022 to roll around.

E-Transit European Customer Trials Programme

In an effort to make sure the new E-Transit is really suited to business and working needs, 10 prototypes are now on the road, having been prepared at Ford's Dunton facility in Essex (the firm's 'global commercial vehicle centre of excellence').

The E-Transit trial includes 3.5-tonne and 4.25-tonne variants, and all three body types. It also features a number of conversions, which we've listed individually as they include some interesting features:

  • > Refrigerated box body designed for grocery delivery, powered by 2.3kW ProPower Onboard system
  • > Dropside body for construction industry with light beacons and weight sensors
  • > Caged tipper for removing refuse
  • > Last-mile delivery box body featuring walkthrough bulkhead and rear air suspension
  • > Last-mile delivery van featuring bonded internal racking, walkthrough bulkhead and front jump seat

Customer types involved include supermarkets, home delivery, postal services and utilities companies. The trial is taking place in Germany, Norway and the UK, all key electric vehicle markets.

Companies taking part in the trial include Balfour Beatty, DHL Express, DPD and Ocado. The trial partners - as Ford is calling them - will operate the vans for six-month or 12-month terms.

Ford E-Transit begins real-world customer trials, four of 10 prototypes

According to European E-Transit chief programme engineer, Andrew Mottram: 'Real-world trials are an important step on our journey to deliver the all-electric E‑Transit and will give us an even better understanding of how to help customers across different industries enhance their productivity using zero-emission power.'

Ford of Europe's market lead for urban electrified vehicles, Dave Petts added, 'We want to demonstrate that helping customers reduce their environmental impact can go hand-in-hand with improving their productivity.

'Real-world mileage in customer hands helps us to show the business benefits that E-Transit can deliver, as well as providing valuable feedback on usage patterns and charging behaviour so that we can refine the operating experience. We firmly believe in treating our customers like family, and this programme highlights the value we place on those close partnerships.'

How else has Ford been testing the E-Transit?

Ford's testing the E-Transit to the same standards as the diesel models, which includes an intensive 12 week programme that's designed to simulate 10 years of active use. Supposedly, it 'recreates the effects of more than 150,000 miles of driving.'

Ford E-Transit electric van, testing for freezing conditions

There's a video below, but the highlights include remaining operational across a temperature range from minus 35 degrees celsius to plus 40 degrees celsius, carrying a full payload up to 2,500 metres, and - worst of all - dealing with potholes.

Other challenges the E-Transit had to manage include rust resistance, fording water and its electric motor being run continuously for 125 days.

The E-Transit is also only the first stage in Ford's electric van plans; by 2024 every light commercial vehicle Ford makes will be 'zero emissions capable' - and this will include a full electric version of the next-generation Transit Custom.

Also read:

>> A-Z of the 2021 Commercial Vehicle Show

>> The best electric vans you can buy now

>> The Parkers guide to electric vans

>> Electric vans coming soon

>> Electric pickups coming soon

>> Our main Ford Transit review

>> Next-gen Ford Transit Custom will be electric, too