► Ford electrification plans gather pace
► Electric version of UK bestseller confirmed for 2023
► Also basis of next VW Transporter
Ford’s shown off the first official pictures of its latest electric vehicle and this one’s a big one – it’s the E-Transit Custom van.
While it might not be the most glamourous or fastest electric model Ford’s ever made, it’s likely to be a really important one. For a variety of reasons – a huge upsurge in demand for home delivery in the last couple of years for one – the Transit Custom has cemented its place as the biggest selling vehicle in the UK. Not just the biggest selling van, the biggest selling vehicle full stop.
The announcement comes with a few official details of the new E-Transit Custom, including a targeted range of 236 miles, which would give it the longest range of any electric van. The caveat to this is that this is still an unconfirmed range, and the bigger E-Transit saw its official range come in at 196 miles, which is marginally down on the 213 miles that Ford hoped for. Still, it’s impressive.
An electric version of the UK’s biggest-selling vehicle is undeniably a big deal. As such, this could be as significant as the F-150 Lightning electric pickup seems to be proving in the USA.
The other new snippets that Ford has announced include a promise of some tech that will allow you to plug your tools into the van – same as you can with the E-Transit – and ‘full towing capability.’ It hasn’t confirmed details such as how full that capability is yet, though.
It will also get DC fast charging and the latest Ford Pro on-board software.
Oh, come on – is an electric Transit Custom that important?
The Transit Custom out-sells its nearest rival by about three to one. Which makes it not just the backbone of Britain but most of the major organs as well – especially when you consider that the next bestselling van is the larger Ford Transit (not Custom) model.
Ford has also confirmed that there will be an electric version of the Transit Courier van and the Tourneo Custom and Tourneo Courier people carriers.
The arrival of the E-Transit Custom also has substantial bearing on the next Volkswagen Transporter…
So is the E-Transit Custom not a rival for the VW ID. Buzz?
There will be some crossover, inevitably, but the Volkswagen ID. Buzz is a slightly smaller vehicle with a much higher quotient of lifestyle content – although that’s not to say the Transit Custom doesn’t also traditionally appeal to ‘vanlife’ types.
The reason it’s more directly relevant to the Transporter is not just because they both compete in the medium van segment, but rather because the next Transporter van proper will be based on this very next-generation Transit Custom.
Thanks to a global alliance arrangement – codenamed Project Cyclone – Ford and Volkswagen are jointly building a number of commercial vehicles. The tie-up between these two giants of the van world, the Transporter and the Transit Custom, is roughly on par with the joint Ranger-Amarok pickup combination in terms of importance.
We’re still waiting on any firm hints about when the VW version of this van arrangement will arrive. But it is interesting to note that although Ford is the lead on the Custom-Transporter project – and will be building both at its highly cost-efficient plants in Turkey – the proportions of that silhouetted image are very inline with those of the current Transporter.
Does this mean there won’t be a diesel version of the next Transit Custom?
Not at all. Electric power simply doesn’t work for every van user at the moment, so we’re expecting a full range of power outputs, including diesel and plug-in hybrid. The current Transit Custom comes as a plug-in hybrid petrol range extender after all.
What about the other technical details?
Vans live and die by the numbers – how much it can carry and how much it costs being arguably two of the most important ones – and we won’t know any more about those until September at the earliest. That’s when Ford has promised more information on the E-Transit Custom. It has said that it will start making it in the second half of 2023, so the first vehicles will go on sale shortly after that.