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Ford says it will debut an all-electric version of the Transit van for the US and Canada for the 2022 model year (expect it to be on sale by autumn/fall 2021).

Built in the US for the North American market (Ford builds the Transit at its Kansas City Assembly Plant), Ford says the electric Transit will be smart and connected, arming fleet owners with technology solutions like in-vehicle high-speed data architecture and cloud-based services to offer new ways to optimise fleet performance.

“Commercial vehicles are a critical component to our big bet on electrification,” said Jim Farley, Ford chief operating officer. “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. This Ford Transit isn’t just about creating an electric drivetrain, it’s about designing and developing a digital product that propels fleets forward.”

Ford says its US truck and van fleet sales have grown 33% since 2015 and the company expects continued growth of van sales in the US as e-commerce and “last mile” deliveries increase. Ford’s overall van sales delivered their best fourth quarter results since 1978 on sales of 59,930 vans. For the year, Ford van sales totalled 240,529 vehicles. Ford expects electric vehicles to grow to 8 percent of the industry in 2025 in the US.

The electric Transit, which will be American-built, is part of Ford’s more than USD11.5bn investment in electrification through 2022. The plan includes the electric Transit sold in Europe, Mustang Mach-E coming later this year and an all-electric F-150.

Smart and connected

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“The world is heading toward electrified products and fleet customers are asking for them now,” said Farley. “We know their vehicles operate as a connected mobile business and their technology needs are different than retail customers. So Ford is thinking deeply on connectivity relationships that integrate with our in-vehicle high-speed electrical architectures and cloud-based data services to provide these businesses smart vehicles beyond just the electric powertrains.”

Fleets can leverage data collected through Ford Telematics using an embedded FordPass Connect modem featuring a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot with connectivity for up to 10 devices. Ford says managers can use Ford Data Services tools like live map GPS tracking, geofencing and vehicle diagnostics to see at-a-glance key performance indicators at a glance for vehicle and driver.

The e-Transit vehicle includes standard Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking plus Pedestrian Detection, Forward Collision Warning, Post-Collision Braking, Lane-Keeping System and auto high-beam headlamps.

Customers, Ford maintains, will have the full backing of the company’s massive electric vehicle-certified dealer network, more than 730 commercial vehicle centres across the US and Canada, and access to Ford’s charging network – North America’s largest public charging network, Ford claims.

Ford points out that all-electric powertrains mean significantly less scheduled maintenance than internal combustion engines, plus lower operating costs. Electric vehicle fleets may benefit from federal, state and local electric vehicle tax incentives, access to high-occupancy vehicle lanes and free parking. Electric vehicles can operate where vans with internal combustion engines cannot, including indoors, in environments with limited ventilation, and at night in areas with restrictive noise ordinances.

Ford is also planning an electric Transit for the European market next year. It will be made for Europe at the Ford Otosan JV in Turkey.

See also: Ford Europe chief on the company’s commercial vehicles and electrification  strategy