Ford on Tuesday confirmed the next generation Transit Custom range will include an all-electric model, in addition to plug-in hybrid, mild hybrid and conventional engine variants, and goes into production in Turkey in the first half of 2023.

All versions will be built by Ford Otosan – the joint venture in Turkey – in Kocaeli.

The next generation Volkswagen one-tonne commercial vehicle also will be built in Kocaeli, as part of a previously announced platform sharing deal.

“The next generation Transit Custom range – including the all-electric versions – will strengthen Ford’s position as Europe’s No.1 commercial vehicle brand,” said Stuart Rowley, president, Ford of Europe. “Transit Custom is the jewel in our commercial vehicle crown and key in our drive to grow our commercial vehicle business as we continue to create a sustainable, profitable business in Europe rooted in an electrified future.”

Ford said in February its entire commercial vehicle range would be zero-emissions capable, all-electric or plug-in hybrid, by 2024, with two-thirds of commercial vehicle sales expected to be all-electric or plug-in hybrid by 2030.

In the interim period, however, Ford understands that not all commercial vehicle operators will make the move from the conventional internal combustion engine to all-electric vehicles in a single jump. This is why its range of powertrain technologies from mild hybrids through to plug-in hybrids are essential and will continue to be a significant part of the next generation Transit Custom range.

Continued growth in Ford’s strong commercial vehicle business is key to its European profitability. It is supported by new products and services, working with an extensive network of commercial vehicle converter partners, with the strategic alliance with Volkswagen and the Ford Otosan joint venture providing cost-effective vehicle development and sourcing.

“Today, we are starting another strategic investment that will help shape the future of the automotive industry. We are transforming our Kocaeli factories into Turkey’s first and only integrated production centre for the assembly of electric vehicles and batteries. We consider this investment, which will span over a decade, as a forward-looking strategic move,” said Ali Koc, chairman, Ford Otosan, and vice chairman, Koc Holding board.

Ford manufacturing facilities will supply diesel engines from Dagenham, UK, and transmissions from Cologne, while 100 Turkish-based suppliers will provide components.

“Commercial vehicle growth and leveraging partnerships such as our joint venture with Ford Otosan are key enablers to Ford of Europe’s future success. We are committed to reaching our 6% EBIT margin goal as part of our plan to turn around our global automotive operations,” said Rowley.

The relationship between Koc Holding and Ford dates back to 1928, and today Ford Otosan is the leading company in the Turkish auto industry and one of the longest running and most successful joint ventures in the global auto industry, Ford claims.

The Kocaeli facilities opened in 2001, and since 2004 has been Ford’s global lead plant for the production of successive generations of the Transit Custom range and the Transit 2-tonne.

The Courier range is manufactured at Otosan’s Yenikoy assembly plant also in Kocaeli.

In total, around 85% of the sales of the complete Transit family of commercial vehicles are from vehicles manufactured by Ford Otosan in Turkey.

Ford Otosan said last December it plans to invest more than EUR2bn to increase vehicle and battery pack assembly capacity production at Kocaeli, and that it expects to increase employment by around 3,000 people.