Ford is launching a pilot program for its all-electric E-Transit commercial van to see how businesses integrate the vehicle into their fleet. Through its Ford Pro division, companies like Penske Truck Leasing and National Grid have taken delivery of early production units to deploy in their operations. Both have ordered the Ford E-Transit, the first of which is expected to join their fleets next year.
The Ford E-Transit will be operating with companies that offer rental, delivery, service, maintenance, telecom, and utilities. Those that ordered the van will experience how a battery-electric vehicle coupled with Ford Pro Intelligence and Ford Pro Charging solutions can make their operations more efficient. Penske aims to evaluate the van’s capabilities, driving experience, and charging strategy for specific applications that include rentals to small- and medium-sized businesses.
“We’re excited to collaborate with Ford Pro on the introduction and real-world testing of these new electric vehicles as the first truck rental and leasing company to do so,” said Art Vallely, President of Penske Truck Leasing. “We expect to see strong utilization and interest from customers making final-mile deliveries, regional deliveries, and eventually consumer use for smaller household moves.” Penske deployed an E-Transit in the Reading, Pennsylvania area and aims to expand the van’s availability to other regions including Southern California.
National Grid, which operates several utility companies, will use a low-roof Ford E-Transit cargo van for home meter reading routes to ensure it can do the same missions as its gas-powered vehicles. “We are proud to be the first energy company in the Northeast to test out Ford’s electric van and collaborate with Ford Pro,” said Badar Khan, President of National Grid, in the U.S. “Over the next decade, National Grid will be moving to a 100% electric fleet for our light-duty vehicles and working to replace medium- and heavy-duty vehicles with sustainable options.”
Companies participating in the Ford Pro E-Transit pilot program will use the vans on specific missions to evaluate their performance. Additionally, they’ll also be able to identify the ideal route type and see which charging solutions fit best with the help of the Ford Pro ecosystem. Ford Pro Intelligence gives operators access to a wide range of telematics solutions to maximize fleet utilization. This allows them to monitor everything from charge levels and vehicle tracking to the range and charging history. It will also enable operators to precondition the vehicle, maximizing range and preserving battery life.
Ford Pro Charging helps tailor charging solutions for fleet operators. This includes end-to-end tools that will provide home, depot, and public charging specifically customized for the customer. Employee home charging will also include a way to manage overnight charging so that they can be easily reimbursed. In case drivers need to use public charging solutions, they’ll have access to the BlueOval Charge Network, which currently includes 19,500 charging stations nationwide. Depot charging solutions will include hardware and software so that operators can monitor optimal charging times for their vehicles and avoid peak-hour electricity rates.
Ford Pro will use the feedback and data gathered from the pilot program to validate the E-Transit’s real-world performance across a broad range of conditions. “Beyond supplying all-electric vehicles to customers, Ford Pro is helping businesses determine better solutions for energy management and fleet efficiency,” said Ted Cannis, CEO of Ford Pro. “Our services link to the vehicle and into the entire operational environment of the business, which is the only way EVs will stick. Anything else is just disruptive to their business bottom line.”
Ford has already started pilot programs with the E-Transit across Europe before announcing this one in North America. Scheduled to arrive next year, the Ford E-Transit will be built at the Kansas City Assembly plant. Pricing starts at $43,295 for a cutaway model and $52,690 for a high-roof extended-wheelbase van. The E-Transit will be powered by a 67-kWh battery and a rear-mounted electric motor rated at 266 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque. On a single charge, it can travel up to 126 miles. When plugged into a DC charger, the E-Transit can gain 45 miles in 15 minutes. It will also get Ford’s Pro Power Onboard features, which adds two 2.4 kW outlets, enabling you to use the van as a generator.