DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. has begun delivering preproduction models of its 2022 E-Transit vans to some businesses as part of a pilot program meant to test its new Ford Pro commercial services.
The automaker declined to say how many businesses are part of the pilot but noted Penske Truck Leasing and utility provider National Grid are among the participants. It was unclear how many E-Transits are involved, although the participating businesses received at least one van as well as access to telematics software and charging tools tailored for commercial fleets.
"Beyond supplying all-electric vehicles to customers, Ford Pro is helping businesses determine better solutions for energy management and fleet efficiency," said Ford Pro CEO Ted Cannis. "Our services link to the vehicle and into the entire operational environment of the business, which is the only way EVs will stick. Anything else is just disruptive to their business bottom line."
Ford declined to say whether the pilot participants placed orders for production vehicles. The automaker said it remains on track to begin E-Transit production by the end of the year and that deliveries will start in early 2022.
National Grid, which plans to move to an all-electric fleet over the next decade, took delivery of a preproduction low-roof E-Transit cargo van and will test it on regular home meter-reading routes. Penske said it plans to evaluate the van's capabilities, driving experience and charging strategy for applications such as rentals to commercial businesses.
"We're excited to collaborate with Ford Pro on the introduction and real-world testing of these new electric vehicles as the first truck rental and leasing company to do so," Art Vallely, president, Penske Truck Leasing, said in a statement. "We expect to see strong utilization and interest from customers making final-mile deliveries, regional deliveries and eventually consumer use for smaller household moves."
Ford says the Ford Pro team will use feedback from the pilot program to validate performance and to "continue to refine products and develop additional training tools."
Ford introduced the E-Transit late last year. The van will come in eight configurations, including a cargo van with three roof heights and three lengths, plus chassis cab and cutaway versions.
The low-roof cargo van variant will get up to 126 miles of range on a full charge, based on EPA methodology. Ford says internal research indicates commercial customers drive 74 miles a day.
The E-Transit starts at $44,990, including shipping.