The diesel roar of a delivery van headed down the street is about to become another relic of a bygone era as Ford has announced it will begin delivering electric Transit delivery vehicles in the U.S. in 2022. If you live in Europe, the news is better, as e-Transits should arrive next year, a move announced to little fanfare last year.
So far, tech specs and pricing have not been specified, but expect the electric Transit vans to be expensive up front. Ford says configurations will include a cargo van, a cutaway, a chassis cab, three roof heights and three body lengths, and a lot of tech built in for fleet managers. And while the latest Tesla or Ford’s upcoming Mach E offerings make for better headlines, it’s the mundane urban workhorse – the lowly delivery van – that will likely goose EV adoption rates in the United States and around the world, and for good reason.
That reason? Operating costs, of course. Delivering anything, from mail to a Cuisinart to a big new TV, requires the operation of a delivery vehicle these days (at least until the drone thing gets figured out), and the cheaper you can make that part of the equation, the more money you can put in your pocket. Even in a worst-case cost-of-electricity scenario, an electric car cost roughly half as much to fuel as a gasser, and in some places, much, much less than half. That number right there has the attention of any business operating one or more gas-powered urban delivery vehicles, and that’s to say nothing of what will likely be a much less expensive upkeep and repair regimen over the life of the vehicle – which has the potential to be longer than the average gasser, barring any major crashes along the way. And since vans work in urban environments for the most part, owners can expect maximum range from batteries since the urban grind is where electric vehicles have the best operating range.
The other advantages electric delivery vans will have over their gas-fueled forebearers (if Ford and other van makers are smart about it) may include an easy upgrade path for new batteries, and simplified repair and servicing. Gas engines and transmission have parts numbering in the thousands; electric vehicles often cut that figure to several dozen, opening the door to possible self-service of repairs, another money saver. Vans also have a lot of acreage on their roofs, so it’s not unlikely that a solar panel installation (perhaps as an option from the OEM) could offset charging costs over time, especially if the vans sit outside for any appreciable time while not under operation.
Amazon may have led the way with their gigantic order of 100,000 electric delivery vans by startup Rivian (who has yet to make a single production-series vehicle), so it looks like Ford could get their electric Transit machines on the road – at least in Europe – ahead of their rival/frenemy, even though Ford is invested in that rival. Ford’s announcement did not make mention of any involvement with Rivian in the production of the Transit e-vans.
Finally, while sedans and SUVs are the current offerings in the electric vehicle sphere, digital nomads have been clamoring for an electric solution to their traveling itch, and if Ford offers a highway-capable model with some decent range, they could find buyers whose “business” is kitting the vans out for travel and leisure.
Despite the Transit announcement, Ford is a bit behind the curve, as Mercedes already offers an electrified version of their popular Sprinter van and Nissan announced their smaller e-NV200 electric van back in 2017. Other players are expected to join the van fray soon.