Ford to reveal all-new electric Transit van Nov. 12

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co., marking another step forward in its goal of electrifying its most iconic nameplates, will reveal on Nov. 12 the all-new E-Transit, the fully battery-electric version of the best-selling Transit cargo van.

The Blue Oval, on the heels of a third-quarter earnings report that beat Wall Street expectations, on Thursday announced the name, reveal date and teasers for the new Transit. The new EV offering — which is scheduled to be released for model year 2022 — is a cornerstone of CEO Jim Farley's vision of delivering technologically advanced trucks and vans that promise reduced maintenance time, lower overall costs, and enhanced, data-driven services to business customers.

A teaser photo of Ford's upcoming E-Transit.

"We're developing all-new electric versions of the F-150 and the Transit, the two most important, highest volume commercial vehicles in our industry," Farley told Wall Street analysts Wednesday. "These leading vehicles really drive the commercial vehicle business at Ford, and we're electrifying them."

The E-Transit, as previously announced, will feature a variety of chassis options, including a cargo van, cutaway and chassis cab. It will be available in three roof heights and three body lengths.

The logo for Ford's E-Transit

The reveal of the electric Transit comes as auto industry experts and insiders report a surge in pandemic-driven deliveries. Ford, citing U.S. Department of Commerce data, noted that e-commerce sales grew 44% in the second quarter. 

The Dearborn automaker, in a recent survey in partnership with Google of 1,000 U.S. respondents and 1,000 respondents in the United Kingdom and Germany, found that consumers are increasingly concerned about their environmental footprint. 

More than 60% of U.S. respondents and 68% of British respondents reported caring about the environmental impact of having goods delivered to their home, according to the survey results. And in all three countries, more than half of respondents said they would choose a more green delivery service over a gas-powered one if prices and arrival times were the same. Nearly half of American and British respondents said they would even wait longer for a delivery from a zero-emission vehicle.

In making Thursday's Transit announcement, Ford noted its continued support of the Paris Agreement, which lays out a global framework for combating climate change, and for the state of California's policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.   

Ford has committed to spending more than $11 billion on electric vehicle development by 2022. Its electrification strategy ties to its strategy in recent years of leveraging iconic nameplates. A hybrid F-150 is due out later this year, for example, and a fully battery-electric version of the best-selling truck is scheduled for release in 2022. Also due out this year is the all-electric Mustang Mach-E.

The automaker in March announced it would electrify the Transit, which, with more than 150,000 units sold, was America's best-selling van last year. It is a linchpin in Ford's robust, highly profitable global commercial vehicle business. And it's part of a growing fleet business that Ford expects will become even stronger due to e-commerce and "last mile" delivery demand.

"Even before COVID, that transition to e-commerce was beginning," Mark Kaufman, Ford's global director of electrification, told The Detroit News. "It's really just further accelerated that trend that was already happening."

Kaufman noted that cost is a top priority for fleet operators and other commercial customers: "We believe with Ford having the E-Transit launch, we're building on a reputation of having reliability and trust with our fleet operators, but at the same time you're getting an improved cost of ownership model over the life of the vehicle."

In making the announcement in March, Farley, then Ford's chief operating officer, called commercial vehicles a "critical component to our big bet on electrification."

"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," he said. "This Ford Transit isn’t just about creating an electric drivetrain, it’s about designing and developing a digital product that propels fleets forward.”

Experts say that electric vehicles, which currently make up between just 1% and 2% of new-vehicle sales in the U.S., are reaching a tipping point at which they will soon reach price parity with conventional vehicles, which is likely to bring about an acceleration in adoption of EVs. Ford expects that by mid-decade, EVs will make up 8% of the market.

Twitter: @JGrzelewski