Behold the Ford E-Transit—the Electric Truck We Should Be Talking About

It is a real working vehicle that just needs a bit more range.

An image of a white Ford E-Transit in a showroom at night with a city in the background


When electric truck maker Rivian went public recently, the crowd went wild and bought 153 million shares, valuing the company at $127 billion. According to Investopedia, that's more than the market capitalization of the entire Ford Motor Company. At the end of October, Rivian had delivered 156 pickup trucks.

A Ford in the driveway of a home.


Meanwhile, nobody appears to have noticed that the Ford Motor Company released the E-Transit, an electric version of the best-selling van in the U.S. The Transit was launched in 1965 in the United Kingdom and became instantly popular with pop stars, known as "the roadie's favorite." According to Ford Transit 50 Wonderful Facts, "London’s Metropolitan Police cast aspersions on Transit’s good name in 1972 by calling it 'Britain’s most wanted van.'" A Scotland Yard spokesman pointed out: “Ford Transits are used in 95 percent of bank raids. With the performance of a car, and space for 1.75 tonnes of loot, the Transit is proving to be the perfect getaway vehicle...”

Several Ford e-Transit types in an empty parking lot with lush trees in the background.


The Transit came to the U.S. in 2014 and is made in Kansas City, but is not used as a getaway car in North America—it just quietly does its job as a dependable work vehicle. The new electric version comes in three roof heights and three body lengths as well as a "chassis cab" where you can add your own box, starting at $45,000 for the basic little van.

The biggest limitation with the E-Transit right now is the range. According to Ford:

"By leveraging more than 30 million miles of Ford Telematics data, we learned that the average daily range for commercial vans in the U.S. is 74 miles. Of course, we also understand that there are days when those distances are higher, and recognize the need to adjust for factors such as cold weather. We consequently designed E-Transit with a targeted 126 miles of range (Cargo Van low-roof models). * Our goal is to be a one-stop-shop for our commercial vehicle customers. And we'll have more announcements in the future on additional derivatives that offer more capability and range."

So we are not quite at the point where we can start living the van life in an E-Transit, we will need that additional capability and range.

A Ford E-transit at a construction site. The vehicle is facing a construction building and the trunk is open with two workers on-site.


But for work closer to home, it has a 67kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery (the Rivian starts with 135 kWh) with 266 horsepower (198 kilowatts) and 317 pound-feet of torque. It holds 3,800 pounds of cargo in the low roof version, 4,250 in the bigger one. Ford promises that it will be a low-maintenance vehicle: "For instance, electric vehicles don't use oil, making oil changes a thing of the past. scheduled maintenance costs are estimated to be 40% less compared to a 2020 gas-powered Transit."

Interior of a Ford e-transit


It also has fancy electronics including "driver-assist technology that can help keep drivers safe while navigating through crowded roads, help improve their driving habits, and help them drive more efficiently." This is probably the result of the testing they do in Europe to ensure "the crash protection of the van itself (self-protection) and the compatibility between commercial vans and passenger cars (partner protection)," something that is ignored in North America.

Available technologies include speed sign recognition and the dreaded "Intelligent Speed Assist"—the speed limiter that keeps drivers from going over the speed limit-all things that should be on every car and truck. You can see on its ratings page that the Transit got gold from EURO-NCAP for all of its vehicles. According to Ford, it was tested for "responses to a child running into the road, and cyclists and pedestrians walking in or crossing the road," something not even considered in North America.

A blue 1966 transit camper sitting on grass
1966 Ford Transit Camper.

Vauxford / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

In Europe, the Ford Transit was often used as a camper or a family hauler, as well as a work vehicle. There were competitions to see how many students you could pile into them—48 was the record. They have proven to be durable and long-lasting. So why have they been treated just as work vehicles in North America? Why did pickups become the standard car in every driveway, even though they are more expensive, more dangerous, and hold far less stuff? Why is the silly Rivian company that has built 200 trucks worth more than Ford, which has 600 service centers already electric vehicle certified? Why isn't this truck all over the news? It just makes so much more sense than a pickup. And when they put in bigger batteries it will make a great camper van.

Three Ford transits lined up in a warehouse parking lot.