After a slow start, Ford Australia is set to launch into the electric vehicle race starting in 2022. The blue oval has revealed it will introduce its first EV next year with four more to follow by 2024.
But it won’t be the head-turning Mustang Mach-E or tech-laden F-150 Lightning leading the way, instead the brand’s first EV will be the E-Transit commercial van. It will arrive in the middle of 2022, joined by the long-awaited Escape plug-in hybrid.
The company knows what the other three models will be, but is playing its cards close to its chest in terms of what will come next, although it did tease that it will be “at least five” hinting it may be more. When asked specifically if the Mach-E and F-150 Lightning were on the local agenda, Ford Australia CEO Andrew Birkic said neither were currently available for the local market.
Given that ‘electrified’ includes both full-battery electric and hybrids, there are plenty of options for Ford Australia, at least in theory. The Mustang Mach-E is now built in right-hand drive for the UK market, the F-150 Lightning and Ford Maverick hybrid with more expected to follow, including the anticipated Ranger PHEV.
Ford of Europe has said it will have electrified variants of every model in its range by 2024, which means there will be other options available to the local operation that we’re yet to see.
The news comes amid Ford’s global US$30 billion investment in electrification to be carbon neutral by 2050. This includes US$11 billion for a new production facility for both vehicles and batteries in Tennessee, dubbed Blue Oval City.
While we wait for more news from Ford, the arrival of the E-Transit is seen as a big step for the brand’s commercial operation. It will join an expanding Transit range alongside the Transit Custom, Transit and Transit Cab Chassis.
The E-Transit will be the most powerful model in the line-up, with 198kW of power and 430Nm of torque from the electric motor and 68kWh battery pack. The batteries are mounted underneath the load floor and there’s a unique rear suspension set-up which also incorporates the rear-mounted motor. That means the useable load space is the same as the diesel-powered Transit, which will be crucial to luring commercial buyers.
As will the 317km estimated driving range, which the company claims is two-and-a-half times more than the average Transit customer needs in a single day. If owners do need to top up during a shift, Ford claims the batteries can get charged from 15 to 80 per cent in just 34 minutes using a DC fast-charger. Using regular AC charging it takes approximately eight-hours to get fully charged, which could be done overnight.
Ford believes there will be a strong market for the E-Transit with more and more companies looking to cut emissions, as well as the benefits of reducing a fleet fuel bill.
Full pricing and specifications for the E-Transit will be announced closer to its local launch next year.