Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) has stated its desire to invest deeply in electrification, and it is not leaving out its commercial customers. A hybrid-electric F-150 will be available later this year, and for the 2022 model year, Ford will electrify its popular Transit van.
Already the world's best-selling van, the Transit will have gas, diesel and electric powertrain options starting in 2022. The diesel option will be available later this year, along with an 11,000-pound gross vehicle weight option.
"What gets us all excited is the future," Mark Buzzell, Ford director of fleet, lease and remarketing operations, said during a press conference Tuesday night at the NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis. "And we're in the midst of the [biggest] product investment in our history."
Ford is investing $11.5 billion in electrification. The company will also debut an electric Mustang Mach-E and a hybrid F-150 later this year.
Ford's U.S. truck and van fleet sales have grown 33% since 2015, and that is expected to continue as e-commerce and last-mile operations continue to grow, said Buzzell. Ford delivered 59,930 vans in the fourth quarter of 2019 — its best fourth quarter since 1978 — and totaled 240,529 van sales for the year. Electric vehicle sales are expected to grow to 8% of total vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2025.
And commercial is a large part of that anticipated growth.
Ford officials were not revealing many details of the electric Transit, but customers can expect benefits associated with other electric vehicles, said Ted Cannis, global director of electrification for Ford. This includes standard pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking plus pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, post-collision braking, a lane-keeping system and auto high-beam headlamps. It will also be connected to Ford Telematics using an embedded modem — which will be standard in all Ford vehicles for the 2021 model year. The modem features 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity for up to 10 devices.
Ford Data Services provides fleet managers tools like live map GPS tracking, geofencing and vehicle diagnostics.
The electric Transit will be available in cargo van, cutaway and chassis cab configurations with three roof heights and three wheelbases, Cannis said.
"We're going to be working with our commercial customers to make sure their problems are solved and that they have the right solutions for the job," he said.
The vehicle's battery will be centered and mounted under the vehicle so cargo capacity will not be compromised. Buzzell declined to say whether payload capacity will be impacted. He told FreightWaves there are no plans for a hybrid version of the Transit at this time.
"We're investing a lot in electrification and we think that is where the market is heading," Buzzell said.
Ford is working with Electrify America and other partners to help build out a public electric charging infrastructure that will include 12,500 stations.
Cannis declined to detail expected range or charging time but said there would be different range options available based on vehicle configuration and battery pack size. He also noted that commercial customers will like the residual values and warranties.
"The customers are going to use these for a long time, and when we come out with the warranty terms, they are going to be very pleased," he told FreightWaves.
F-600 Gets Chassis Cab Option
In other Ford news, the company has introduced a chassis cab option to its F-600 line, adding more versatility for the vehicle, including more last-mile delivery vehicle options. The company is also bringing an air compressor option to its gas-powered F-650 and F-750 trucks, giving owners the option of adding air brakes to their vehicles.
The F-750 is popular with fleets hauling trailers that don't require Class 8 trucks, such as beverage haulers.
"We are just as passionate about the success of our customers' businesses as they are,"
Buzzell said. "So, we have devoted decades to developing deep insights into their wants and needs. This focus has led us to create a winning portfolio of commercial vehicles that our customers love and rely on every day."
The F-600 chassis cab offers Class 6 capability in a Class 5 body package — giving fleets a choice of adding payload capacity without moving up to a Class 6 vehicle.
It will be available for delivery this summer.
7.3L V8 Added To F-650, F-750, Other Models
Ford's new 7.3-liter V8 gasoline engine is for current model year Super Duty F-450, F-550 and F-600 chassis cab models, E-Series vans, and F-53 and F-59 stripped chassis vehicles. The package includes upgraded valvetrain components to withstand higher operating temperatures and lower lubricity of gaseous fuels so the vehicle can be converted by a Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier to run on CNG or propane.
On F-650 and F-750 vehicles, Ford is now making the V8 available in addition to the integrated air compressor. The compressor can be used to power air brakes, air suspension and other accessories like air horns or air ride seats. Currently, air brakes are available only on diesel-powered trucks.
Sales of F-650 and F-700 vehicles are up 37% year-over-year, Ford said, and sales topped 16,510 trucks in 2019.
The F-650 and F-750 are also available with an updated 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8.
"We expect this new offering to be popular in several vocational segments including propane delivery, municipalities, utilities and tree service," said Nathan Oscarson, Ford commercial
truck brand manager. "Many customers have told us they'd like to take advantage of the cost savings provided by a gas truck, but they also want the peace of mind provided by air brakes."
Ford is also adding flex fuel capability to its 2022 E-Series cutaway vehicles. E-Series with flex fuel capability can run on gasoline or blends of up to 85% ethanol, or E85. The company also added "scalloped engine access" covers that provide additional legroom.