Demand is strong, with more than 300 customers placing orders for 10,000-plus E-Transit vans, which are produced at Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant. Businesses of all sizes are ordering E-Transit – from small operations like Sheeran Construction in Aston, Pennsylvania, to municipalities like the city of Orlando, Fla., to some of the nation’s largest service providers and retailers like Walmart, which ordered more than 1,100 vans.
“I completely trust Ford and I am confident the E-Transit will withstand the rigors of my work,” said Ryan Sheeran, owner of Sheeran Construction and a soon-to-be E-Transit owner. “I am looking forward to owning my first all-electric vehicle.”
Increasing EV production to meet customer demand
To deliver E-Transit vans to customers like Sheeran, Ford invested $100 million in the Kansas City Assembly Plant and added approximately 150 full-time jobs. These jobs include vehicle and battery pack assembly for the new E-Transit. It is the first Ford U.S. plant to assemble both batteries and all-electric vehicles in house.
“When asked if I wanted to work on the new E-Transit, I was one of the first to raise my hand and volunteer,” said John Dodd, a UAW-Ford operator who holds one of the 150 new jobs at the plant. “I’m ready to see the E-Transit on the roads, to see it make an actual impact on local businesses. The future of Ford is electric and it’s exciting.”
The new jobs further expand Ford’s commitment to manufacturing in the U.S.; Ford employs more U.S. hourly workers and assembles more vehicles in America than any other automaker.
“Today’s production shipping announcement of the 2022 Ford Pro E-Transit vans to customers marks the beginning of a new era emerging from Kansas City Assembly Plant,” said Chuck Browning, UAW vice president and director for the Ford department. “By producing both gas and electric versions of America’s best-selling commercial van, members in Claycomo are working to meet current demand while transitioning to a strong electric future. UAW members are proud to take part in Ford’s commitment to build a quality new technology product that adds jobs and investment in Kansas City.”
E-Transit is Ford’s most recent electric vehicle, following the Mustang Mach-E. The F-150 Lightning and F-150 Lightning Pro deliveries are set to begin this spring.
By the end of next year, Ford will reportedly have the global capacity to produce 600,000 battery electric vehicles annually, which includes 200,000-plus Mustang Mach-E SUVs and 150,000 F-150 Lightning trucks. Ford is now working on ways to increase E-Transit production.
“E-Transit is a testament to the fact that an electric commercial fleet is no longer a vision of tomorrow, but a productivity-boosting modern reality,” said Kumar Galhotra, president of The Americas & International Markets Group, Ford Motor Company.
Announcements of increasing production on new vehicles came only days after Ford had announced a temporary halt or reduction at multiple facilities due to the supply issues.
CNN Business and other outlets reported that Ford facilities in Chicago, Michigan, Mexico, and Missouri are reportedly either halting work or reducing to one shift this week.
"The global semiconductor shortage continues to affect Ford's North American plants -- along with automakers and other industries around the world," Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker said in an email to CNN Business.
Production of Transits will reportedly continue at the Kansas City Assembly Plant on one shift instead of the usual two. Ford production plants are anticipated to be back to full capacity by Feb. 15.
“Ford Pro is committed to driving businesses forward – from the Transits and F-150s assembled right here in America by American workers, to the many businesses it will help grow, to the communities that benefit from the jobs and revenue,” said Tim Baughman, general manager, Ford Pro North America.
Leading businesses into the future
E-Transit is designed for work with available features like Pro Power Onboard3 – which turns the vehicle into a mobile generator with up to 2.4 kilowatts of power to run circular saws, belt sanders, air compressors, power washers or other pieces of equipment. It virtually eliminates the need to carry a generator to a job site.
Drew Walker, marketing manager for the E-Transit says the E-Transit offers unmatched configurability supported by the Ford Pro ecosystem of end-to-end charging, telematics, service, and financing. There are
“We don't just serve one vocation with E-Transit, we serve a really broad base of businesses,” he said “Small business with a fleet size of one up to really large fleets of over 1000. This vehicle really can be tailored to any business need.”
The cargo space is identical to a traditional gas Transit van. Walker said the reason that is important is all the upfits that currently fit in a Transit will drop right into an E-Transit model. So, if a business has a certain set of racks and bins or other shelving solutions, they are comfortable with, it will drop right into the electric models. Similarly, Walker said there is no change to the overall interior dimensions or the step-in height.
Generally, the interior of the E-Transit is very similar to a traditional van. The overall feel in the cab creates a far more ergonomic experience for the driver. A few of the outstanding features are the large 12-inch screen for navigation and use of Ford Pros systems including Ford's latest electrical architecture and in vehicle control system called Ford Sync 4.
Walker said the E-Transits include a rotary shifter, making it more compact and smaller allowing for more room to maneuver inside the vehicle if needed. Also, there's no parking brake in the middle of the seats so it’s easier to walk right through into the back of the van and not trip over an obstruction.
The cargo capacity for the E-Transits is comparable to the gas versions. For the low roof configurations, Walker said the vans can carry a maximum of 3,880 pounds, like the T 350 series. The high roof versions of the E-Transits reach a maximum capacity of around 3,300 pounds.
Built cab forward to leave as much cargo space in the back as possible, the E-Transit does not feature the frunk that is a unique addition to the Ford Lightning Pro. With no engine, the space under the hood of the E-Transit is occupied by the fluids, cooling systems and a 12-volt battery to power the internal electronics.
Ford Pro understands that commercial vehicle customers need industrial-strength underbodies, especially when operating on work sites and in areas where road conditions are challenging.
With a usable battery capacity of 68 kilowatt hours, E-Transit delivers a range and performance expected by Ford's commercial customers. Depending on the roof height configuration the range is up to 126 miles on the low roof version and on the highest roof version, it's closer to 108 miles.
“That's more than enough for most commercial van usage applications,” Walker said. “We've looked at sort of the real-world telematics data over 30 million miles worth of that data to understand the daily usage patterns of commercial vans.” According to the date reviewed by Ford, 74 miles is the average daily driving of a commercial van in the U.S. “When you look at trying to bring enough capability to this vehicle but also at an affordable price, E-Transit really hits the hits the mark on that,” Walker said. MSRP for the E-Transit is $43,295.
Walker said the vehicle also has range forecasting, that will account for factors along the regular routes and help ensure maximum battery efficiency. “With the navigation, it knows the elevation changes between where you are where you're going, it knows your current temperature and the temperature of where you're going and can factor in the speed of traffic and the amount of cargo you’re carrying,” he said. “Having the integration of the navigation with the EV creates for a really accurate forecasting.” Also, Walker said the system will learn a driver’s typical behaviors and cargo loads to help update the range forecasts.
“Like anything new there's a few things to get used to but overall, it's going to be quite familiar for most people,” he added
For example, the E-Transit is whisper quiet, even to the driver. The lack of noise does take some getting used to for drivers. “Typically, you just listen for the engine noise or the turnover and here there are some power notifications on the dash to alert you that the vehicle is on,” Walker said. Similarly, exiting the vehicle, you don’t want to walk away and leave it on, which is easy to do since you may not think about it being on feeling no vibration or noise. Fortunately, the E-Transit does have a timeout function, so if you leave it on, it will eventually timeout and automatically shut off. As with other electric vehicles, the E-Transit does include some ambient noise at lower speeds to help alert pedestrians to its movements.
As for the general driving of the vans, there are three different drive modes: normal, Eco and slippery Eco elevates the amount of regen (regeneration), the process of recovering energy from the battery when slowing down to get the most efficiency out of the van. Walker noted that slippery helps in those condition with just keeping proper traction on the road. There is also a “low” mode on the rotary shifter that enable max regen.
“It's a breeze to drive,” Walker said. “It's very easy for people to jump into this and if they're used to a gas vehicle, they're not going to have any trouble driving an E-Transit. It has very much the same easy sort of driving dynamics and it's really an easy transition.”
Plugging it in
The E-Transit can be charged in a variety of different ways, with the charge port located right in the grille with connections for a DC fast charger and a level 2 CCS style charger. The onboard charger takes about 11 kilowatts, meaning an overnight charge of approximately 8 hours will provide the battery with a full charge plugged into a 240 volt outlet. The van also comes with a mobile charger that can be plugged into a 240 outlet if on the go. Walker said there are switchable ends so it can plug into a 120-volt outlet as well. “Obviously, that's quite a bit slower but you know, if you're going to be somewhere for a while or just need a small top off, it's nice to be able to take that on the go to have a variety of different ways to charge,” he said.
With the DC fast charge, Walker said a driver could get most of the way to a full charge in a little over a half hour. “For a lot of our use cases, thinking about an installer or someone going to a job site, you're going to pull up there in the morning, be there all day working, and then you're going to drive home at night. The van is going to be off unless you're maybe plugging into it to use another tool,” Walker said. Theoretically, a contractor could plug into a 120-volt outlet for the day while on site and pick up some amount of charge.
However, Walker noted that it is always going to be a variety of solutions in terms of charging. “It’s going to be at your job site, or at your home or at the depot of your business, if you keep all the vehicles there overnight,” he said. “Ford Pro offers charging solutions for depot systems as well. We really have solutions for commercial customers, regardless of how they use the vehicle and how they want to charge it. We've solved for all those different ways and use cases.”
The E-Transit also has an in vehicle charging app, called Charge Assist, which directs drives to locate and initialize public chargers right from the vehicle. “This is the first time there's been an in vehicle embedded charging app for public charging,” Walker said. “You can filter by the type of charger, the speed, how far away it is and even a star rating of the depot.” All 70,000 plugs within Ford’s Blue Oval network are included. It is the largest system of public chargers provided by a manufacturer.
To ensur consistent operation, Ford tested the vehicles in extreme temperatures on a proving ground in northern Michigan. According to Walker everything is built and tested for those rough Midwest conditions. As it happens, by their very nature, lithium-ion batteries are impacted by cold weather. Basically, the efficiency of the battery goes down, so it takes more energy draw to get the same range that you might expect. E-Transits are impacted by that, every EV manufacture is impacted by that.
“We've built in some really clever features into the vehicle to help mitigate that issue,” Walker said. One way, is an optional factory-installed bulkhead at the front of the vehicle. The bulkhead serves a couple of purposes. First, if a load in the back shifts, nothing can get to the driver. Secondly, from an energy consumption standpoint, the bulkhead reduces the amount of airspace that needs to be heated or cooled.
New Ford Pro Intelligence subscription services such as Ford Pro E-Telematics can be accessed by activating the standard 4G LTE modem on E-Transit. Ford Pro E-Telematics – complimentary for three years on E-Transit – is designed to help maximize run time with scheduled preconditioning when vehicles are connected to the grid, allowing drivers to bring the cabin to a desired temperature when still plugged in, helping preserve battery charge for use on the road. In colder climates, the battery heating system simultaneously warms up as well, to ensure maximum efficiency. “This is kind of a best practice to set this up in advance, so that way when you're getting yourself ready to go, the van will have a full charge and be nice and warm before you leave,” Walker said.