Ford plans to bring an electric Transit commercial van to the European market by 2021 as part of the automaker’s broader plan to electrify its global portfolio.
The automaker announced the Transit EV, along with more than a dozen other electrified consumer-facing models that will be part of its European portfolio, at its Go Further event in Amsterdam on Tuesday.
Ford didn’t provide many other details on the Transit van. And for now, the EV commercial van is only slated for Europe. Ford’s focus on Europe makes sense, considering its sales record in the region. Ford sold 380,900 commercial vehicles in its 20 European markets last year, up more than 8 percent compared with 2017.
The company did say the commercial van is be “designed to address the needs of businesses for a practical and versatile load-carrier with zero-emission driving capability for urban applications.” That type of language suggests a city-focused vehicle that might have a mid-200-mile range. The all-electric Transit will be available in multiple body styles, Ford said.
Ford made several other commercial vehicle-related announcements on Tuesday, including the introduction of its new Tourneo Custom Plug-In Hybrid that can seat eight people and will be available to European customers beginning in late 2019.
One of the more interesting pieces of commercial news is Ford’s new initiative to target 100 percent uptime for commercial vehicle operators. Ford plans to hit that target via a usage-based maintenance program that will be powered by a new app called FordPass Pro that was previewed at the event.
FordPass Pro app, which will be launched later this year, is specifically designed to support smaller firms and owner drivers to maximize their productivity.
“Commercial customers need smarter, more integrated solutions, built around a connected business environment,” said Hans Schep, general manager of commercial vehicles at Ford of Europe.
Ford also unveiled a Transit Smart Energy Concept, a 10-seater minibus. The concept, which has about 93 miles of driving range from a four-hour charge, was developed by engineers at Ford’s Merkenich Technical Center in Germany. The concept uses a Ford Transit chassis fitted with the same battery-electric drivetrain technology as the StreetScooter WORK XL. StreetScooter is the company behind DeutschePost DHL electric vans.
Ford is working on other iterations of the concept minibus that increase energy savings and extend battery-electric driving range, including features that would allow the driver to control heating and cooling of individual seats — and deactivation of unoccupied seats.
Ford says road trials with the Transit Smart Energy Concept are expected to begin later this year, after completing wind-tunnel tests. Ford engineers will take what they learn from these trials and future versions of the concept and eventually apply its range-extending features to volume production vehicles.