Ford E-Transit Custom: White van man goes green
NEVER mind Tesla and all those other electric cars we keep hearing about - it may surprise you to learn that the best-selling vehicle of all in Northern Ireland and Britain last year wasn't a Tesla or Volkswagen Golf or Vauxhall Corsa or any of the other usual suspects but a Ford Transit, writes William Scholes.
The Transit Custom is huge business - it was also the most bought one-tonne van across Europe in 2021 - so it's a big deal when Ford says it is going to alter the formula of a vehicle so definitive that, like Hoover, its name has become shorthand for all similar products from rival manufacturers.
That happened on Monday, when Ford announced that the next Transit Custom van will be all-electric, with production due to begin in around 12 months.
Earlier electric vans have been hampered by low ranges and compromised towing or load carrying abilities. That wouldn't be good enough for the E-Transit Custom - note the all-important E-for-electric prefix - thus Ford promises a range of up to 236 miles, full towing capability and DC fast charging.
That quoted range is impressive, especially if it translates into real-world duties. Citroen's electric e-Dispatch can do just over 200 miles, while the larger Mercedes-Benz Sprinter can't break 100 miles.
"This is a watershed moment for commercial vehicle operators in Europe, and another hugely significant realisation of our Ford Pro ambitions," said Hans Schep, general manager of Ford Pro - the company's commercial vehicle wing - in Europe.
"Europe's best-selling van just went all-electric and – supported by our unique Ford Pro one-stop-shop of productivity-boosting services – the operating benefits this will bring to business across Europe cannot be overstated."
Among the features on the van sure to appeal to the trade users who are the Transit Custom's is the ability to use the battery to power tools, lights and other devices while at a building site.
Ford has introduced the same technology to America's favourite vehicle, the F150 pick-up, which is undergoing a similar electric reinvention.
Ford plans to have a stable of five electric vans by 2024: the full-fat E-Transit two-tonne van has already landed (it has a 196-mile range), the one-tonne E-Transit Custom is due next year, and there will also be a smaller Transit Courier, plus the people carrier Tourneo Custom and Tourneo Courier models.