Ford’s all-electric Transit is starting work on European roads as customer trials commence with a selection of major fleet operators ahead of the volume sales launch in spring 2022.
The trial kicks off with 10 E-Transit prototypes being put to the test across a variety of intensive real-world operating scenarios in the postal, municipal and utilities, last mile and grocery delivery sectors within Germany, Norway and the UK. Among the trial partners are AWB waste disposal, Balfour Beatty, the City of Cologne municipal fleet, DHL Express in the UK, DPD, Norwegian Post, Ocado and Recover Nordic.
The trials fleet features a full range of E-Transit variants including van, double-cab-in-van and chassis cab derivatives with gross vehicle masses from 3.5 to 4.25 tonnes, 1 and a variety of specialised vehicle conversions that reflect the complex operating requirements that Transit vehicles need to support.
“We want to demonstrate that helping customers reduce their environmental impact can go hand-in-hand with improving their productivity,” said Dave Petts, market lead, urban electrified vans, Ford of Europe. “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.”
The trials mark the latest phase in Ford’s development of the new E-Transit, following a demanding testing programme at Ford proving grounds and engineering facilities. Trials partners will operate the E-Transit prototypes over six- or 12-month periods.
E-Transit has been carefully engineered to allow simple and straightforward conversion using the same fixtures and fittings developed for existing Transit models. A selection of the trial vehicles have been converted – with support from the Ford-approved Qualified Vehicle Modifier network – to help demonstrate the versatility of the E-Transit platform. Examples of the conversions include:
- Refrigerated box body for grocery delivery, powered by 2.3kW ProPower Onboard system
- Dropside body for construction with light beacons and weight sensors
- Caged tipper for refuse removal
- Last-mile delivery box body with walkthrough bulkhead and rear air suspension
- Last-mile delivery van with bonded internal racking, walkthrough bulkhead and front jump seat
The E-Transit customer trials programme follows an earlier successful initiative featuring the Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid, during which a cross-section of city-based customers covered over 150,000 miles and found they could operate in zero-emission mode for 75 per cent of their mileage when in central London. 2 Further testing in Cologne, Germany helped demonstrate the benefit of an innovative dynamic geofencing technology, which automatically triggered zero-emissions EV Now mode in areas with particularly high air pollution to help improve local air quality in urban areas.
In 2020, Ford achieved its sixth successive year as the leader in commercial vehicle sales in Europe. The trend has continued into 2021, with Ford maintaining its position as the UK’s best-selling commercial vehicle brand during the first half of this year, and Transit Custom the best-selling vehicle overall.