The best selling commercial van in the world is going electric, and that could change the entire fleet market. Ford already takes a huge cut of that market, selling almost a quarter of a million Transits in 2019. The company says that it expects around 8 percent of the fleet truck and van market to be electric by 2025, and it wants to make an early push to own that market, too.
While the full details of the new Transit EV—like range, power output, and cost—haven’t been unveiled yet, Ford says this will all come out soon. Perhaps it’ll be a New York Auto Show thing.
“Commercial vehicles are a critical component to our big bet on electrification,” said Jim Farley, COO, Ford Motor Company. “As leaders in this space, we are accelerating our plans to create solutions that help businesses run better, starting with our all-electric Transit and F-150. This Ford Transit isn’t just about creating an electric drivetrain, it’s about designing and developing a digital product that propels fleets forward.”
Ford has some experience in electrified vans, as it offers a Transit Custom PHEV in Europe which has proven popular with the white van crowd. The custom is sized to fit in between the Transit Connect, and the full-sized Transit. It’s about the size of a Mercedes-Benz Metris. We don’t get that one here in the U.S.
The electric Transit will be direct competition to the Rivian-built Amazon van (also backed by Ford), and the new Arrival van backed by Hyundai. With Ford’s already dominant fleet truck and van distribution network, and a familiar form-factor, it hopes that it will be able to grab customers transitioning from gasoline to electric.
I think that if Ford can get the range of this thing up to about 200 miles or so, it will be more than functional as a daily delivery vehicle for a number of different businesses. Your local plumber or florist could certainly use one, as well as a number of parcel delivery services. Most routes are going to come in under that range number, and the van can be delivered back to a hub for overnight charging.
Much like pornography’s role in the transition to VHS over Betamax or BluRay over HD DVD, if the commercial van market transitions to battery electric instead of hydrogen, that could be just the tipping point that the consumer market needs. If enough of these big vans with batteries sell, it could help the cost of the battery metallurgy come down enough to produce viable fast charging and longer range.