Ford Pro in Europe has announced changed to the Ford Transit and Ford E-Transit due to go into production in 2024. The enhancements include improved connectivity features, wireless software updates, simplified aftermarket conversions, and automation of repetitive tasks for delivery drivers.
There are also chassis improvements and the addition of an eight-speed automatic transmission for front-wheel-drive models that will boost payload capacity, improve vehicle performance, handling, and efficiency.
The new technology features include the SYNC 4 communication and information system, supported by a 12-inch touchscreen and an 8-inch digital instrument cluster for a driver-focused cab experience. The system also includes Connected Navigation for real-time traffic information to assist drivers in planning routes and staying on schedule. The Ford Transit will also be equipped with Ford's latest 5G modem, providing fast connectivity for smart technologies and enabling wireless updates through the Ford Power-Up system.
Additionally, the 2024 Transit models will introduce Delivery Assist technology, available on long wheelbase panel van E-Transit and Transit models with automatic transmission. This feature automates repetitive security tasks for delivery drivers, saving time and enhancing efficiency. The system automatically stops the engine, activates hazard warning lights and alarms, locks doors not in use, and restarts the engine when the brake pedal is pressed.
The Ford Pro Upfit Integration System allows drivers to control aftermarket installed equipment via digital buttons on the in-cab touchscreen. It also integrates with Ford Pro software packages for remote monitoring, enabling features such as temperature tracking in refrigerated vehicles.
In terms of safety, the 2024 Transit models will come with a comprehensive suite of advanced driver assistance systems as standard, including Pre-Collision Assist with Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping Alert & Aid, and Intelligent Speed Assist. Optional driver assistance packs offer additional features such as Blind Spot Information System, Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control, and Auto Park Assist with a 360-degree camera.
The 2024 model will introduce a new eight-speed automatic transmission option for front-wheel drive Transits, improving performance, efficiency, and load-hauling capability. The new transmission enables a higher Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) of up to 4,250kg and Gross Train Mass (GTM) of up to 6,000kg, providing increased capacity for payloads.
Furthermore, the 2024 Transit models will feature new wheel hub and brake systems, reducing weight and making brake replacements quicker and easier. New 16-inch wheels will become standard across the model.
Ford Pro expects the upgrades to enhance conversion potential and save time and effort for operators. The new heavy-duty Gross Axle Weight Rating pack, available for front-wheel drive models, will increase the front axle maximum weight, particularly benefiting applications such as horseboxes or low loaders that require high payloads and easy access to the load area.
The latest Transit and E-Transit models will be available for customer order later this month, with production starting next year and deliveries expected from summer 2024.
Ford gave the first public airing of next year’s Ford E-Transit Custom along with details of the next-generation Transit Custom range which will include PHEV and new EcoBlue diesel vans.
The Ford E-Transit Custom will have a 380km range and support 125 kW fast charging, while the new Custom PHEV uses a similar powertrain to the Kuga PHEV with a 2.5-litre petrol engine combined with a 11.8kWh battery to give 57km of electric-only range.
New Transit Custom diesel engines will range from 108hp to 167hp with a new 8-speed auto gearbox joining the range along with an all-wheel-drive option. All next-generation Transit Custom vans will get the Ford Pro range of software and connected service which include Ford Pro Telematics.
Like its larger sibling, the Ford E-Transit, the Ford E-Transit Custom will be built in Turkey.
Ford also announced plans for its new Ford Pro Upfit Integration System an interface module that establishes a direct connection to the electrical system allowing conversions to be controlled via the 13-inch SYNC 4 touchscreen rather than though bolt-on switchgear. It is hoped that this will speed up the delivery time of conversions as well as improving reliability as converters won’t have to modify the cab area or splice into factory wiring.
Speaking about the new Transit Custom PHEV, Ford Pro CEO, Ted Cannis said: “Not all of Europe was ready with the charging infrastructure or facilities to go completely electric. In Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, there are places where it's not a solution yet because it's just not available.
"If you have dense urban zones, still where you don't have the infrastructure in place, the plug in hybrid allows you to enter the city, like in London, and then you can go out and do a lot of distance. I think getting this bridge to full electrification in the near term, you have to have those decisions that's why to lead the market from end-to-end in Europe we really thought we needed the whole gamut during this period of transition.”
Ford has created its fourth and most powerful SuperVan to date, the Ford Pro Electric SuperVan. The new SuperVan has a staggering 2000hp from four electric motors to give it a 0-62mph time of less than 2 seconds and a top speed of more than 185mph.
It uses parts from the upcoming Ford E-Transit Custom and has been fully connected using the recently launched Ford Pro tool kit. That will allow real-time data from the SuperVan to be uploaded to the Ford Pro cloud and analysed by fleet managers or would-be race directors.
Four electric motors, one in each wheel, are powered by a 50 kWh liquid-cooled battery. It uses a bespoke control system to produce a combined 2000hp.
Read our electric van reviews
The Electric SuperVan also gets a purpose-built, track-ready chassis steel with a steel spaceframe and lightweight composite body panels. Under the skin there is unequal-length double wishbone suspension at each corner with motorsport-grade front and rear subframes, uprights, and brakes.
Unusually for an electric van, it has a two-speed gearbox with a very short first ratio to ensure maximum gearing to get the best possible acceleration.
As it is a connected van, the new SuperVan 4 gets a host of onboard cameras that can be broadcast to its audience, with the driver also able to pull camera feed into the on-board Sync 4 screen which is a carry-over from the new Ford E-Transit and the E-Transit Custom.
Despite its massive aero wing rear diffuser, front splitter and side skirts, not to mention its staggering performance, the Electric SuperVan is still a commercial vehicle and has a loadspace! There's a side door for loading and unloading and Ford is said to be developing a secure electromagnetic release system which can be controlled via the SYNC screen.
The Electric SuperVan’s interior gets a full roll cage as well as FIA approved racing seats. Not going to the racetrack? SuperVan can use the Sync 4 system as a normal sat nav or to find a charger, connect to WiFi and make phone calls. But the touchscreen also lets you control the selectable drive modes. They have been tailored to the Electric SuperVan’s torque maps and regenerative braking to give five very different driving modes.
Road – for rare cases of “normal” driving
Track – for balancing speed and cornering on track with racing slick tyres
Drag – for maximum acceleration on drag strips
Drift – for spectacular drifting, agility demonstrations and snow driving
Rally – for optimum performance on tarmac and gravel rally stages with special tyres
Built by Ford Performance and motorsport experts STARD, the SuperVan’s cutaways and dorsal fin help to push air onto the rear wing. This will generate downforce and keep the Electric SuperVan on the track.
Other electronic features include launch control, a pit-lane speed limiter and three-stage regenerative braking. The braking is similar to the L Mode function on E-Transit van. At low speed, Eco Mode keeps the motors at their optimal efficiency and turns the regenerative braking up to max. It also disengages drive to the rear axle. At the other end of the scale there’s an E-Boost button which gives a temporary power and torque boost.
Perhaps the maddest digital decision is the inclusion of something which Ford are calling a Tyre Cleaning Mode. This they say “can deliver exhilarating driving displays”. That's because it allows you to fully brake one axle while spinning the other. That should mean some impressive burnouts on the front or rear axles. Which of course would only be every used appropriate to help clean and warm the tyres before performance runs…. Yeah right!
Ford’s first SuperVan was revealed in 1971 with a mid-mounted engine from the Le Mans-winning Ford GT40. It was based on the Transit Mk1. SuperVan 2 followed shortly after with a glassfibre version of the Transit Mk2 body. It had a 590 PS Cosworth V8 put under the bonnet. SuperVan returned for a third time as the facelifted Transit Mk3. Power came from a 650 PS Cosworth HB engine shared with Formula 1 cars of the era.
The Electric SuperVan will be making its debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The driver will be Romain Dumas, a multiple record holder at Goodwood, Pikes Peak and the Nurburgring.
Also going up the famous hill climb will be the new Ford Ranger Raptor with its V6 petrol engine.
Needless to say, the SuperVan is a one-off and won't be going on sale! But it does demonstrate the capabilites of Ford's electric vans as in between runs, the Ford Electric SuperVan will only need 45 minutes to full recharge using a standard fast charger. Electric motorsport has never looked so good.
Ford Transit vans will now get Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection autonomous emergency braking as well as a Lane-Keeping system on all Ford Transit Trend, Limited and Trail models from spring next year.
That will mean that 60% of all Transit vans sold across Europe will now get the systems.
Transit Trend trim level vans will also now get Ford’s Quickclear heated windscreen along with auto headlights and rain-sensing windscreen wipers.
Top of the range Limited trim Transit vans will also get new additional standard features, and will include the updated SYNC 4 infotainment system. The 12in touchscreen is a significant upgrade to the current SYNC 3 system with Limited vans also getting a high-mounted rear-view camera with LED downlighter. Limited vans will also get a keyless start system, Ford Power, which the company says will help customers with frequent-stop itineraries.
Additional driver assistance systems will also be added to the range with a new Reverse Brake Assist as well as a 360-degree camera option.
SYNC 4 will enable vans to have Ford Power-Up software updates which remotely upgrades software systems, keeping the van’s technology up-to-date wirelessly and without any involvement needed by the driver.
Read our Ford Transit review
Other features of SYNC 4 include cloud-connected live traffic, weather and parking updates, wireless Android Auto or Apple Carplay with two mobile devices connected simultaneously and Advanced Speech Recognition with Conversational Language Commands.
All new Transits now get the FordPass Connect modem fitted as standard which improves vehicle productivity by providing real-time vehicle health data through FORDLiive to keep dealers up to date with the health status of the van. This ensures that any scheduled or unscheduled work can be carried out quickly, reducing the amount of time the van spends off the road.
All upgrades to the Transit range will begin for orders in Q4 of this year.
The Ford E-Transit is to begin fleet trails in the UK and Europe with some of the biggest names in home delivery and construction.
Trails of the electric Transit van will begin in spring 2022 with fleet operators in the postal, municipal and utilities, last mile and grocery delivery sectors all using the vehicle in their real world operations.
Germany, Norway and the UK will play host to a complete range of E-Transit models from panel vans, double cabs and chassis cabs with names such as Balfour Beatty, DHL Express in the UK, DPD and Ocado taking part. Also trailing the vans will be Recover Nordic, AWB waste disposal, the City of Cologne and Norwegian Post.
Read: Ford E-Transit review
In keeping with the sort of work they are to be doing, a number of the trial vehicles have been converted. Ford-approved Qualified Vehicle Modifiers have added refrigerated, dropside and caged tipper bodies.
The latest Ford E-Transit fleet trail comes off the back of successful trials with the Ford Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid which was tested extensively by existing Ford fleets, covering more than 150,000 miles and operating in zero-emission mode for 75% of their time while in central London.
Read more electric van reviews
“We want to demonstrate that helping customers reduce their environmental impact can go hand-in-hand with improving their productivity,” said Dave Petts, market lead, urban electrified vans, Ford of Europe. “Real-world mileage in customer hands helps us to show the business benefits that E-Transit can deliver, as well as providing valuable feedback on usage patterns and charging behaviour so that we can refine the operating experience. We firmly believe in treating our customers like family, and this programme highlights the value we place on those close partnerships.”
The E-Transit prototypes will be in the field for six to 12 months with each of the customers.
The arrival of the electric Transit van is part of Ford’s overall plans to electrify its entire vehicle range. The Ford E-Transit will be the first fully electric commercial vehicle in the Ford line-up when it goes on sale in 2023.