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Ford E-Transit review

Ford has re-imagined what a large full-battery van should be and come up with this, the E-Transit, which sets a fresh segment benchmark. 

Ford has re-imagined what a large full-battery van should be and come up with this, the E-Transit, which sets a fresh segment benchmark. If your business has been waiting for a large full-electric LCV that really adds up, that day may have arrived.


To be absolutely honest, the properly large-sized full-electric vans we've had to date haven't been very good. The driving range and payloads have been disappointing and the prices high. Time for something better: time for this, the Ford E-Transit.

The Blue Oval brand is the last of the major LCV market players to bring a large EV to market, but it's been worth waiting for. There's a motor from the Mustang Mach-E, a class-leading driving range, proper car-like coil-sprung suspension and a price which undercuts some rivals by up to £10,000 or more. Interested yet?

Driving Experience

A lot's gone on here. There's a choice of two motors, both derived from the one used in the Mustang Mach-E. The lower-powered unit offers 184PS: the higher one 269PS, massively more than any other van on sale. Also borrowed from the Mach-E is the 68kWh battery pack, which offers a combined and class-leading range of 197 miles. The brand decided to put the drive motor at the back, which meant the need to completely redevelop the rear suspension. Out went the combustion model's leaf springs and live axle and in its place were added far more car-like coil springs and independent suspension.

There's the usual single-speed EV auto transmission, which has a selectable 'L' setting for greater brake regeneration. There are also three driving modes - 'Normal', 'Eco' and 'Slippery'. And there's even an 'on-board driving coach', which takes the form of a percentage display on the centre screen but can also talk to you if it thinks you need instruction. It might conceivably tell you off for enjoying the instant acceleration too much (there's a potent 430Nm of torque). That's something you'll struggle not to do in that high powered version. Just as well then, that handling, always a Transit strong point, has been improved by the way that the battery pack beneath the load floor lowers the unloaded centre of gravity by about a foot. That'll help traction out of corners and roundabouts.

Design and Build

From the outside, there aren't too many giveaways as to this E-Transit's full-battery status. Not unless you see one plugged-in of course - the CCS socket is in the nose section, which sees the grille featuring chrome blue trim accents. The space behind that grille isn't empty: Ford has stashed there all the vehicle control systems and incorporated into this area a crash structure that it calls the 'Mega Brace'. This aims to replicate the structural role of a conventional engine in a front-end accident.

At the wheel, there's a big 12-inch centre infotainment screen running Ford's latest 'SYNC 4' media system. Operators will be interested in the 'ProPower Onboard' set-up that can use the main drive battery as a source of power for tools and equipment. For that, there's a conventional plug socket in the cab, with two more in the load area and these can draw up to 2.3kW of power.

Otherwise, it's just as in a diesel version. The multi-adjustable steering wheel allows a decent driving position and the gear lever is located close at hand. There's a console that's loaded with buttons to control the various stereo and phone controls, helping you to take calls safely on the move. In fact, the biggest compliment you can pay is that it feels resolutely car-like.

Market and Model

The E-Transit is priced from around £49,000 (around £10,000 less than a lot of its rivals) and is offered with two trim levels - base 'Leader' and plusher 'Trend'. Think in terms of a price premium of around £5,000 over an equivalently-specified 'EcoBlue Hybrid' manual diesel model; an also around £5,000 over an equivalent conventional diesel 130PS auto variant. The E-Transit's much more powerful than either of those two alternatives though. Choose it and there's a premium of around £1,150 to go from the 184PS version to the faster 269PS variant. Both trim levels offer significantly higher specifications than the equivalent diesel model. Even 'Leader'-spec gets you Electronic Air Temperature Control, Keyless Start, heated seats, a Quickclear windscreen and heated power mirrors.

The E-Transit introduces the 'SYNC 4' communications and information system to Ford's commercial vehicle range in Europe, offering twice the computing power of the old 'SYNC 3' system and controlled via a 12-inch touchscreen. 'Trend'-spec adds 'Ford Connected' navigation, which can plan the most efficient route and update drivers on charging, traffic and live parking availability. There's also an 'Intelligent Range' system that claims to display a more accurate distance-to-empty figure. Available enhanced voice control and embedded Amazon Alexa 6 features help drivers receive the information they need without taking their eyes from the road. In addition, all E-Transits feature a standard FordPass Connect modem 7 enabling always-on connectivity.

Available drive assist technologies include PreCollision Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Traffic Sign Recognition, a Blind Spot Information System with Lane Change Warning & Aid, Lane Departure Warning, a Lane-Keeping Aid and Junction Assist. There's also a Reverse Brake Assist system, which uses a camera and sensors to detect pedestrians, cyclists and static obstacles when reversing and can deliver a warning before automatically stopping the vehicle.

Practicalities and Costs

Where a lot of large EV vans fall down is when it comes to the issue of payload. That's not such a problem here. Depending on variant, the E-Transit can take up to 1,758 KG. It's available in 25 different versions, including van, double-cab-in-van and chassis cab body styles, with multiple lengths and roof heights, as well as GVMs from 3.5 to 4.25 tonnes. Load capacity is unaffected by the EV powertrain installation. And you get the same choice of body styles. That means three wheelbase lengths (L2, L3 and L4) and two roof heights (H2 and H3). Capacity varies between 10.7m3 and 15.1m3.

As for running costs, well in addition to significant fuel cost savings, Ford estimates that service maintenance and repair costs will be up to 40% lower than equivalent diesel-powered models. The brand also reckons that the ETransit has the lowest such costs on the UK market versus direct competitors.

The brand's 'Ford Pro' LCV network offers a class-leading, one year, unlimited mileage service interval and an eight year, 100,000-mile warranty for all high-voltage electric components, including cover for excessive degradation, as well as a one year electric vehicle roadside assistance package including rescue charging. The pan-European Ford Pro Service network is EV-ready with 1,500 EV Certified Dealers across Europe, and over 4,500 Authorised Repairers who all have service capability.


Even if you don't want to acquire a Ford E-Transit, you can hardly doubt this vehicle's significance. Imagine how much stuff is delivered to your work or your home in a big Transit each year. And imagine what the environmental impact will be of an increasing number of such vehicles being of the full-battery kind. This isn't just a significant step for Ford; it's a significant step for our transport system.

Rather than simply throwing an EV powertrain at an existing combustion model to get a product quickly to market (as most of its competitors have done), Ford has taken its time and done the job properly. This 2-tonne Transit design might be familiar, but in some ways, this Electric version offers a deeper dynamic redesign than is the case with the separate mid-sized E-Transit Custom model, which Ford developed with Volkswagen. Future Ford vans will all be rebadged Volkswagens, but this one isn't. And maybe, just maybe, it's better that way.