Exclusive: Ford E-Transit gets 186-mile option starting May 11, vanlifers rejoice

Ford will announce a larger extended-range battery option for their market-leading E-Transit electric van on May 11. The new battery will have an estimated 186 miles of range.

We’re at ACT Expo this week, the industry’s largest advanced truck expo, where we met with Ted Cannis, CEO of Ford Pro, Ford’s commercial vehicle arm. Cannis gave us some insight into how Ford’s commercial vehicle programs are going.

But more importantly, he also gave us an exclusive tip that Ford will release an extended range E-Transit option on May 11, with a 186-mile range, up from the current E-Transit’s 126 miles. The current 126-mile option will remain available as a base model for fleets who don’t want to pay for more than what they need.

Ford may be using the same or similar battery pack from the F-150 Lightning base model for this. The Lightning has a 98kWh battery, which would be about the size we would expect from the E-Transit extended range battery, given their relative ranges (about 50% more range, about 50% more battery). We’ll get more specific information on the battery on May 11.

The new E-Transit will include a faster AC charger at 19.2kW, enabling faster charging from Ford’s 80-amp Charge Station Pro or any other charger capable of delivering enough juice. With about 100kWh of battery, this means it will take about five hours to charge from 0%-100%.

Cannis told us that in speaking with commercial customers, Ford has found that charging is one of the main points of concern for fleets. Some fleets have it easy, with vehicles with light-duty cycles that return to a depot every night.

But Ford offers the E-Transit in several different configurations to be used by all sorts of fleets and businesses, and some of them don’t have as reliable charging access as others. For example, some fleet vehicles get taken home by workers, and some of those workers might live in apartments or places that don’t have convenient charging.

So with faster AC charging and a bigger battery, this should help enable more fleets to make use of the E-Transit. Cannis mentioned that these improvements could be of particular interest to some construction fleets, who sometimes have to move long distances from site to site, or any fleet that has a niche situation that only allows more occasional charging.

We’ve seen a lot of companies building interesting solutions on the E-Transit, from school buses to RVs. To step away from fleet solutions for a moment, bigger batteries could definitely be of interest to the latter group, to overlanders who will move a long distance in one day and then park for a while at their next stop.

Ford currently has approximately half the electric van market in the US and Europe, making it the market leader by a significant margin. The next-biggest producer of electric vans is Rivian, but it serves only one customer at the moment – Amazon.

In its first year, the E-Transit has already helped save 745,000 gallons of gas over 12 million miles, and Ford says it can help reduce lifetime fleet CO2 by 57%.

Order banks will open later this quarter, but we’ll learn more information about that, and about the new extended-range E-Transit, on May 11.

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