The Ford E-Transit has to be one of the most eagerly anticipated new vans for many years. Partly because the most iconic name in LCVs going electric has a real feeling of ‘the future is now’ about it, and partly because the technical specs being previewed by Ford looked to be highly impressive and a step above those offered by most rivals. Having previously sampled a pre-production model, we’ve now had the chance to drive the finished article on UK roads.
Where some electric vans in this segment come with relatively modest power outputs and are therefore marketed as being really only for urban deliveries, Ford has taken a very different approach with the E-Transit. Two motor options are available, with outputs of 184hp and 269hp, and when these impressive on-paper figures are combined with the immediate response of an electric powertrain, on-road performance is very strong. With an empty load bay on our test drive, even with the lesser 184hp motor we found impressive acceleration not just around town, but also all the way up to motorway speeds, with the E-Transit gaining speed in a way that would be pretty brisk for a car, never mind a large van. In fact, the performance gap between this and the 269hp version doesn’t feel as noticeable on the road as you might expect, and there’s certainly no danger of drivers feeling short changed with the lower output. Leaving the city-confined aspirations of rivals far behind, the E-Transit is very comfortable with motorway work, and with silent electric propulsion the only significant noise intrusion into the cabin at motorway speeds is from wind rushing past the door mirrors. That said, the E-Transit’s powertrain is very good around town too, with that immediate acceleration – and of course no gears to change – making urban work a doddle.
The E-Transit comes with a 68kWh battery, which allows a maximum range of 197 miles on the official WLTP combined cycle – a very impressive figure, although it is dependent on spec. An L2H2 model will go that far, but our L3H2 Trend test vehicle has a figure of 156 miles, although this still stacks up well against the competition. A 15–80% battery charge is possible in 34 minutes via a DC charger, while a full three-phase 230V charge takes eight hours.
Powertrain aside, we’re used to Transits being good to drive, and the E-Transit is no exception. Crisp steering makes it easy and rewarding to place on the road, and cornering is good thanks also to the suspension limiting body roll. That latter attribute doesn’t come at the expense of ride quality either – it isn’t pillow soft, and the underlying ride is reasonably firm, but even quite significant ruts and potholes in the road are absorbed with minimal disruption to the cabin’s occupants. The brakes are good too, providing plenty of stopping power when needed without any undue lurching, with the system’s interaction with the electric powertrain well managed.
Load bay dimensions for the E-Transit are the same as for a rear-wheel drive diesel Transit, so there is no penalty in terms of carrying space for going electric. The heavy batteries do, however, mean a payload reduced by nearly 300kg compared with the equivalent diesel in our test van’s L3H2 spec. There is a choice of three vehicle lengths and two heights, and of panel van, double-cab-in-van and chassis cab bodystyles.
The E-Transit is being offered with two of the trim level options from the regular Transit range – entry-level Leader and mid-range Trend. This doesn’t, however, mean disappointing interior equipment, with all E-Transits getting a 12in infotainment touchscreen running Ford’s latest Sync 4 infotainment system, appearing for the first time in one of the manufacturer’s commercial vehicles. As well as being impressively large, this boasts clear graphics and is usefully responsive to touches – although it might be better still if it was angled a bit more towards the driver. The TFT screen in the instrument cluster also usefully relays instructions from the satnav system which is included with Trend spec, while all E-Transits also come as standard with automatic air conditioning, heated seats, a heated windscreen, heated electric door mirrors, and a FordPass Connect modem allowing access to Ford’s telematics services. It all adds up to a package that more than meets our expectations – the future may well be here.
Ford E-Transit Trend 350 L3H2 135kW
Price (ex. VAT) £53,385
Price range (ex. VAT) £48,045–£57,235
Insurance group 44A
Warranty 3yrs/100,000mls (battery and high-voltage components 8yrs/100,000mls)
Service intervals 1yr/unlimited mls
Load length 3,494mm
Load width (min/max) 1,392mm/1,784mm
Load bay height 2,025mm
Gross payload 960kg
Load volume 11.0m3
Engine size/power 184hp electric motor with 68kWh battery
The E-Transit lives up to the hype in some style, shooting straight to the top of the class.