Ford E-Transit 2023 review

Ford E-Transit 2023 review
Ford is starting the EV ball rolling in Australia with the E-Transit commercial van.
Ford E-Transit 2023 review

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the design is there’s nothing very different about the E-Transit compared to the regular Transit.

Ford E-Transit 2023 review

Ford has laid the battery packs flat inside the ladder-frame chassis which means none of the cargo space has been compromised.

Ford E-Transit 2023 review

The E-Transit a thoughtfully designed cabin, with plenty of usable storage spaces.

Ford E-Transit 2023 review

There is plenty of cargo volume that will please fleet buyers.

Ford E-Transit 2023 review

Ford claims that with a 115kW DC fast-charger the E-Transit battery can go from 15 per cent charge to 80 per cent in just 34 minutes.

Ford E-Transit 2023 review

With the onboard 11.3kW charger it takes 8.2 hours to get the battery back to 100 per cent capacity.

Ford E-Transit 2023 review

The E-Transit supports bi-directional use of the battery too.

Ford E-Transit 2023 review

One feature that is confirmed for the Australian-bound E-Transit is what Ford calls, Scheduled Pre-Conditioning.

What we like

Quiet electric powertrain Thoughtful cabin Unchanged cargo capacity

What we don’t

Modest performance Ride is firm Pricing unclear

What we like

Quiet electric powertrain Thoughtful cabin Unchanged cargo capacity

What we don’t

Modest performance Ride is firm Pricing unclear

Meet Ford’s electric pioneer for Australia – the E-Transit.

It may not be as exciting as a Tesla Model S, Porsche Taycan or Audi e-tron, but this electric version of the Blue Oval’s large van will help create a new market for zero-emissions commercial vehicles. 

This is seen as a major opportunity by Ford to provide an electric alternative to typically diesel-powered vans, which will no doubt prove popular with fleet operators looking to cut fuel costs and corporate emissions. While unlikely to suit all van buyers, thanks to its limited range and recharging restrictions, for those companies with shorter delivery routes it will certainly have appeal.

Ford’s research (performed by YouGov) suggests up to 58 per cent of business “can see EVs becoming part of their vehicle fleet in the future”.

But it’s just Ford’s first step into the larger world of electric vehicles. We’ve already had confirmation the smaller E-Transit Custom is headed our way and there are good odds the Mustang Mach-E will eventually find its way to Australian showrooms, so there’s plenty of exciting models in store for Ford.

In the meantime, though, the E-Transit isn’t due in Australia until sometime in the first half of 2023, but CarsGuide was able to take one for a test drive near Ford’s Detroit headquarters recently to get a taste of what’s to come. 

Ford E-Transit 2023 review
The E-Transit isn’t due in Australia until sometime in the first half of 2023.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

Ford Australia originally announced the E-Transit would arrive by “mid-2022” but that date has been pushed back thanks to the ongoing supply challenges faced by most car companies.

While the initial technical details have been confirmed – the first model available will be the 420L long-wheelbase version – the company hasn’t locked in detailed local specifications and pricing yet.

Ford E-Transit 2023 review
Inside is Ford’s SYNC4 multimedia system displayed on a 12.0-inch centrally mounted screen.

The closest comparison in the current Transit range is the 350L, which is available in both mid- and high-roof variants. Based on the model we test drove in the US, there are similar specifications between the two, including 16-inch steel wheels, partial-leather-trimmed seats and Ford’s SYNC4 multimedia system displayed on a 12.0-inch centrally mounted screen. 

While pricing isn’t confirmed, it’s likely the E-Transit will carry a premium over the Transit so we’d estimate a starting price in the mid-$60,000 range.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the design is there’s nothing very different about the E-Transit compared to the regular Transit. Which is a good thing, because the Transit is already a popular delivery van so any change for the sake of difference may have messed with the winning formula.

In fact, the design element that is important is the way Ford has laid the battery packs flat inside the ladder-frame chassis which means none of the cargo space has been compromised. This means the E-Transit has the same load area as its internal combustion equivalent, which is key for any delivery van.

Ford E-Transit 2023 review

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the design is there’s nothing very different about the E-Transit compared to the regular Transit.

Ford E-Transit 2023 review

Ford has laid the battery packs flat inside the ladder-frame chassis which means none of the cargo space has been compromised.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The cabin is very similar to what you’ll find in the Transit, so there will be familiarity for anyone making the switch from the diesel-powered version. The rotary shifter and 12.0-inch tablet-style multimedia screen make for a smart look but also means minimal space is wasted.

It’s a thoughtfully designed cabin, with plenty of usable storage spaces, including three cup-holders, a pair of bottle-holders and deep storage shelves on the top of the dashboard. The doors are particularly noteworthy, with multiple storage areas carved into the available space.

The seats are comfortable and, naturally with a high-roof van, there’s plenty of head room which creates a spacious feeling.

Ford E-Transit 2023 review

The E-Transit a thoughtfully designed cabin, with plenty of usable storage spaces.

Ford E-Transit 2023 review

There is plenty of cargo volume that will please fleet buyers.

Behind the seats is the cargo area. In the US-specification E-Transit we drove there was a dividing wall between the cabin and the back of the van, with a small sliding door to access the cargo area, but it’s unlikely this will be offered in Australia. Instead, local models will likely have a hard divider between the cabin and back, with a small window for visibility.

As mentioned earlier, the floorspace in the E-Transit remains the same as the Transit thanks to the battery being laid underneath the floor, so there’s plenty of cargo volume that will please fleet buyers. 

In the US the E-Transit’s cargo area measures 11.3-cubic-metres with the medium-height roof and expands to 12.4cu/m with the high-roof body.

Ford says the “targeted payload” will be 1616kg.

What are the key stats for the drivetrain?   8/10

One element of the E-Transit we are clear on is what’s under the bonnet. The E-Transit is powered by an 198kW/430Nm electric motor that powers the rear wheels and draws energy from a 68kWh battery.

That means the E-Transit is the most powerful member of the Transit family, with the rest of the range powered by the 125kW/390Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine.

Ford claims the E-Transit has a range of 317km (on the WLTP cycle), which may not sound like a lot for a commercial van but Ford claims in the US the daily average for such vehicles is only 120km.  

In order to save charge, the E-Transit is equipped with an Eco Mode which limits top speed, regulates acceleration and limits climate control settings. Ford claims this allows the driver to cut energy usage by between eight to 10 per cent when driven at highway speeds or when unladen. 

How much energy does it consume?   8/10

Charging will be a key element of the E-Transit’s appeal (or not) to buyers, with fleets needing to maximise the van’s time on the road. Ford claims that with a 115kW DC fast-charger the E-Transit battery can go from 15 per cent charge to 80 per cent in just 34 minutes.

With the onboard 11.3kW charger it takes 8.2 hours to get the battery back to 100 per cent capacity.

The E-Transit supports bi-directional use of the battery too. In the US the E-Transit is available with its Pro Power Onboard technology as an option. This allows for the driver to draw up to 2.4kW of power from the vehicle’s battery to power tools and other equipment as necessary. 

One feature that is confirmed for the Australian-bound E-Transit is what Ford calls, Scheduled Pre-Conditioning. This is a system that allows the operator to pre-set the climate control for the cabin while the van is still on charge so that you can still have maximum charge available when you start driving.

Ford E-Transit 2023 review

Ford claims that with a 115kW DC fast-charger the E-Transit battery can go from 15 per cent charge to 80 per cent in just 34 minutes.

Ford E-Transit 2023 review

With the onboard 11.3kW charger it takes 8.2 hours to get the battery back to 100 per cent capacity.

Ford E-Transit 2023 review

The E-Transit supports bi-directional use of the battery too.

Ford E-Transit 2023 review

One feature that is confirmed for the Australian-bound E-Transit is what Ford calls, Scheduled Pre-Conditioning.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   9/10

The current Transit is not rated by ANCAP, as is the case with most of its full-size van rivals because the safety authority tends to focus on the mid-size vans – such as the Transit Custom, Toyota HiAce and Hyundai Staria-Load.

However, the E-Transit does have a solid safety package, with driver and passenger front, side and curtain airbags all standard. While the E-Transit’s local safety package isn’t locked in, the Transit already boasts autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning, rollover mitigation, side-wind stabilisation, trailer sway control and traffic-sign recognition, so it’s probably a safe bet these will all be included on the E-Transit. 

We drove the high-roof E-Transit in the US and with a high-mounted reversing camera it was surprisingly easy to navigate for such a big vehicle.

Ford E-Transit 2023 review
The current Transit is not rated by ANCAP.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   9/10

Ford Australia has already confirmed that the E-Transit will be covered by Ford’s now-standard five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, plus an extended eight-year/160,000km warranty specifically for the battery and high-voltage electric components.

What’s it like to drive?   8/10

Electric vehicles have earned a reputation for rapid, exciting acceleration… but that’s not the case with the E-Transit. Performance could best be described as modest, with adequate but unspectacular acceleration.

Which is fine, because the E-Transit is not meant to be a ‘ludicrously’ quick van, instead it’s meant to haul a load as efficiently as possible. On that front it does a good job, with smooth (albeit gentle) acceleration and steady pulling power.

Ford E-Transit 2023 review
The steering is nicely weighted and direct, which makes manoeuvring such a huge vehicle straightforward.

It’s important to note, though, that our test car was unladen – with only some shelving installed in the back. So we’ll have to reserve judgement on how the E-Transit performs with a full load on-board, on Australian roads.

The rest of the driving experience is as you’ll find with the Transit. The steering is nicely weighted and direct, which makes manoeuvring such a huge vehicle straightforward. 

The ride is on the firm side, which isn’t unusual for either a van or an electric vehicle as it needs to control so much weight, but it isn’t uncomfortable and offers good control.

Verdict

Ford has taken an unorthodox approach to entering the electric vehicle market in Australia, avoiding the hype around the Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning and instead laying the foundations with the E-Transit.

But it’s a savvy move, giving the brand a chance to enter what should be a largely untapped market with a vehicle that should appeal to what buyers are looking for. With unchanged space compared to the diesel-powered Transit, the switch to a more powerful electric powertrain makes the E-Transit a win-win scenario for those with a suitable daily driving routine.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel, accommodation and meals provided.

 

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