Ford E-Transit Courier review

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Ford's E-Transit Courier sets the standard for what a really small electric van should be, thinks Jonathan Crouch

Ten Second Review

Ford's E-Transit Courier delivers full battery power more compactly than almost any other LCV. There's a decent operating range, more carriage capacity and payload than you might expect and some really clever interior touches.

Background

Small city-sized vans are the ones that need full-battery power the most. There aren't too many really compact LCVs on the market these days, but one of the very best is Ford's Transit Courier. In second generation form, it's also available in full-battery form and sold as the E-Transit Courier. And it could be the kind of compact LCV your business really needs going forward.

It's made on the old Ford EcoSport production line in Craiova, Romania, built by the Blue Oval brand's Ford Otosan commercial vehicles division. It also comes in passenger-carrying MPV form, the E-Tourneo Courier. It's the LCV version though, that we look at here.

Driving Experience

Obviously you'll have to have an auto (the usual EV 1-speeder) if you choose the E-Transit Courier. This has a 134bhp electric motor mounted on the front axle. There's no dual motor AWD version. Expect a battery size around 54kWh and a range of around 200 miles - about 37 miles more than rival Citroen e-Berlingo, Vauxhall Combo Electric or Peugeot e-Partner competitors. Top speed is 90mph and there's 290Nm of pulling power.

Owners get lots of clever connectivity services too. Subscription-based Connected Navigation can boost productivity and reduce driver workload with updates on traffic, parking, charging and local hazards. Customers with five or more of these on their fleet can also benefit from the tailored features of Ford Pro E-Telematics. This system uses live data to help maximise productivity, as well as delivering features to support effective and intuitive use of Ford Pro Charging. These include current charging status, vehicle-specific state of charge, and remaining range with customisable low range alert thresholds.

Design and Build

This second generation Transit Courier design is 'bigger in every dimension', according to Ford's Design Chief Amko Leenarts. And it's smarter, more sophisticated look is mirrored by equally advanced underpinnings - a heavily revised version of the B2E platform used in the Puma small SUV. Inside, the cabin's dominated by two big 12-inch screens, one for the SYNC4 central infotainment display, the other for the digital instrument panel. The latest wireless 'Apple CarPlay' and 'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring connectivity comes included.

There's also plenty of cabin storage, including space for tablets and pads, paperwork and of course, on-the-move beverages. The centre console reveals an enormous storage bin big enough to hold a laptop bag. You'll notice the unusual 'squircle' steering wheel design, supposed to improve leg room and visibility for the driver. There's also a column-mounted gear shifter, push-button ignition and an electronic handbrake, all features intended to deliver increased configurable storage space. And as an option, Ford offers an 'Office Pack', which includes extra lighting and a fold-away table.

Market and Model

You'll need more like £30,000 for the E-Transit Courier (about £10,000 more than the base petrol model), but there'll be a government grant to help with that. Across the range, the so-called 'onboard digital experience' is centred around the striking 'digiboard' instrument panel that features a full digital instrument cluster and SYNC 4 infotainment controlled via a large 12inch touchscreen. The fully-connected cabin features wireless 'Android Auto' and 'Apple CarPlay' integration, as well as a phone charging pad to stay connected on the go. Over-the-air updates can improve functionality over time without the need to visit a dealership. Air conditioning and a heated windscreen will also be standard-fit on most models.

Driver and cargo safety are paramount concerns for van operators and the E-Transit Courier aims to set a new benchmark in the segment with its comprehensive suite of advanced driver assistance systems as standard. An optional further bundle includes Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centring and Stop & Go, a Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert, Intersection Assist and Reverse Brake Assist for more peace of mind in urban driving.

Every E-Transit Courier features a built-in modem as standard, enabling always-on connectivity with the Ford Pro ecosystem and wireless software updates that can evolve the vehicle's capability over time without requiring a dealer visit.

Practicalities and Costs

Practicality's largely unaffected by the all-electric drivetrain. And a decent 700kg payload capacity is offered. This van can tow up to 750kg. There's also an optional load-through bulkhead that enables the carriage of items up to 2.6-metres long. Width between the rear wheel arches is 1,220mm, enabling the compact van to carry two Euro pallets for the first time. Plus, this LCV offers a 44-litre under-bonnet 'frunk' for storing the charging leads.

As we told you in our 'Driving' section, the E-Transit Courier's 54kWh battery offers a range of around 230 miles. This van can DC charge at up to 100kW, which will give you a 10-80% battery replenishment time of under 35 minutes - and 54 miles of range can be added in just 10 minutes. Connected up to your 7kW garage wall box at home, you should easily be able to completely recharge this LCV overnight.

Summary

If the E-Transit Courier could be made at a really affordable price, it would be an almost default choice for forward-thinking customers needing an urban delivery LCV in the small van segment. Not least because, like its combustion-fuelled Transit Courier counterparts, this E-Transit Courier offers almost as much space and payload as a compact van from the next class up.

As it is though, even with the government grant taken into account, you're going to need to think carefully about one of these. But if your business can justify the price Ford wants for the technology, there's a lot to like here.

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