Ford Transit

Fuel efficiency Ancap rating
$54,990–$69,590 N/A N/A

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2023 Ford E Transit Van 9

2023 Ford E-Transit electric van review: First drive

Electric E-Transit is the true quiet achiever of Ford’s family

4 Oct 2022

For a few months in my early 20s, I had a job delivering industrial cleaning products to small businesses in the south west of Britain and, if it had paid a little better, I’d probably still be doing it.

The pain of minimum wage aside, it was the perfect job for a number of reasons. Firstly it involved meeting a broad range of interesting people each day, and finding out a little more about them and their quirky companies with every visit.

Secondly, my delivery routes took me not on tedious motorways, but through the spectacular scenery and winding country roads of North Somerset, with a majority of my customers based in impossibly pretty towns and hamlets.

And the third element that made my day-to-day so enjoyable was the steed that accompanied me – the venerable Ford Transit.

Since its introduction in 1965, the Transit has been many things – put to work by tradespeople, it quickly became famous for its stoic balance of power and practicality and, in the hands of criminals and gangsters it even managed infamy.

Regardless of its duty, almost all who have spent time at the wheel of a Transit have warmed to the model – and I’m certainly one of them.

But the humble Transit is currently undergoing its biggest transition in nearly 60 years and, from January 2023, the very first electric E-Transit van will arrive in Australia.

In preparation for the local launch, we took Ford’s first zero-emissions light commercial vehicle for a spin outside the global headquarters in Dearborn USA for a first taste of what we can expect.

From the outside, there’s little to divulge this Transit’s electric secret. If you look closely, there are blue flashes pin-striping the grille fins at the front as well as the concealed charge flap, and a badge at the back, but that’s pretty much it.

There’s little more to denote the electric hardware once inside, although a central digital instrument cluster screen provides electric power flow and efficiency information to the driver.

While the Transit’s interior has been traditionally utilitarian to deal with the rigours of hard work and coffee spills, the E-Transit has a 12.0-inch touchscreen with Sync4 operating system, and push-button start, along with a rotary gear selector – all hints that this Transit is trying harder.

For now, Ford is producing the E-Transit at its Texas factory in three choices of wheelbase and three options of roof height, although Ford Australia has not confirmed exactly which, if not all, version will be made available locally.

Unlike the number of body options, the E-Transit will be available with just one powertrain

All variants will have a single electric motor on the rear axle producing 198kW and 430Nm, which may not sound like much compared with the dizzying figures frequently claimed for other EV models, but that performance makes it the most powerful of any Transit on the market.

On the road

In practice, the Transit is not fast, but its power and torque delivery has a satisfyingly effortless nature.

Its throttle map has not been calibrated to demolish everything at the lights, but it does deliver a lovely progressive feel all the way from step-off, through a big chunk of torque in the middle of the pedal travel and a flattening-off toward to full position.

It actually makes the E-Transit a treat to drive with none of the accidental wheel slip that’s too easy with diesel variants thanks to inevitable turbo lag and the late onset of full grunt. It’s still possible to get a chirp or scuff from the tyres, but only when deliberately provoked.

Regenerative braking is not as aggressive as some more performance-focused EVs, but still noticeable and essential to prolonging range in suburban and metropolitan settings.

Cleverly, Ford’s information system includes an option to ‘coach’ the driver with warnings whenever the operator is being unnecessarily aggressive with either the throttle or brakes, which would significantly reduce efficiency and range.

Could this system be the end of unwelcome ‘white van man’ driving traits on our roads or an annoying thorn in delivery drivers side’s? Time will tell.

The E-Transit won't destroy everything at the lights, but it does have a lovely progressive feel all the way from step-off, through a big chunk of torque in the middle of the pedal travel and a flattening-off toward to full position.

A second optional system dubbed Smart Acceleration Truncation further extends battery range by reducing the available acceleration according to load weight and prevents wasteful drag-strip launches when a heavy cargo is on board.

It’s features like this that Ford electric vehicle program vice president Darren Palmer says makes the E-Transit “Insanely tempting for a business”.

“It pays back for most customers in a very short time and it means they can undercut their competitors by a large amount,” he said. “Plus it can be repaired everywhere, dealers can service them and it’s got the whole digital side now, which improves your business throughput.”

Ultimately, just how quickly that payback comes is down to how much Ford wants to charge for the E-Transit in Australia, which is not yet confirmed. In the US, the range kicks off from $39,000 (A$58,000).

If a similar deal can be struck Down Under, the E-Transit will cost little more than its diesel equivalents locally – although expecting a slight premium will likely fend off disappointment.

E-Transit driving range and charging

Speaking of range preservation, with a 68kWh lithium-ion battery, Ford says the smaller-bodied E-Transits will go up to 266Km on a single charge while the higher-drag large-body versions drop to about 174Km. Obviously, that shrinks further as the load increases.

In the context of passenger vehicles and premium EV offerings, those numbers may sound a little meager and we would have to agree that an electric Transit will not be appealing to any freight company that operates legs between capitals.

It’s worth noting however, that an average metropolitan delivery van – Australia Post or Amazon, for example – covers between 100km and 130km per day. It’s almost as if Ford has done its research, isn’t it?

If the maximum range is occasionally exceeded, the E-Transit can be topped up on the fly from 15 per cent to 80 per cent in about 30 minutes using high-rate chargers or, at basic low-rate chargers, a full charge is done in about eight hours back at the depot.

Compared with the standard diesel Transit, the driving experience is enhanced with another design feature unique to the E-Transit. While combustion versions stick with a solid rear axle and leaf-spring suspension, the electric version has an independent, coil-spring setup.

Until a loaded test is arranged the jury will remain out on overall ride-quality, but our first unladen drive suggests the E-Transit has the potential to reduce driver fatigue and boost comfort.

Further increasing the operator comfort is a small optional door between the cab and load space which effectively isolates the driver from almost all of the noise generated by wind and road noise in the large load area.

Another valuable factory option for our test van included a fully racked-out load area with clever folding lightweight shelving which would allow excellent organisation of packages for courier duties, for example, but with the option to open up almost the full load area for large objects.

E-Transit cargo space and payload

Go for the smallest combination of low-roof and shortest wheelbase and the E-Transit will accommodate up to 7000 litres of cargo, while the biggest tall-roof, Extended wheelbase will swallow more than 13,000 litres – the same as is combustion equivalents.

Regardless of the body type, all versions have a maximum rear axle load of 2722kg while the front axle is rated up to 1873kg.

Whatever tasks its charged with, the E-Transit shares its body design with the regular diesel variants, which allows existing customers to swap over specialised or custom equipment from combustion versions to the electric model with a minimum of engineering and downtime.


A first steer of the E-Transit confirms that an electrified version of the famous van upholds the model’s traditional values, providing a workhorse that operators will look forward to driving and accountants will look forward to running the numbers on.

While Ford’s arguably more exciting Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning are currently claiming most of the limelight surrounding the Blue Oval’s electric ventures, it’s the wallflower E-Transit that has the potential to make the biggest impact to transport carbon emissions.

With the milestone switch to electric, the Transit has never more been the stoic and hardworking quiet achiever of Ford’s family.

Score breakdown
Comfort and space
Engine and gearbox
Ride and handling

Things we like

  • Excellent drivability and ride, uncompromised load space
  • Clever range boosting features
  • Uncompromised load space

Not so much

  • Load test will have to wait
  • It all comes down to the numbers…

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