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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Jordyn Grzelewski

Ford's Kansas City plant begins deliveries of all-electric E-Transit cargo van

Ford Motor Co. this week began shipping its new all-electric E-Transit cargo van from its Kansas City Assembly Plant in Missouri to customers across the U.S., the automaker said Tuesday.

Shipments of the electric version of the popular van kicked off as Ford said it had netted more than 10,000 orders from 300 customers of varying sizes, including 1,100 orders from retail giant Walmart Inc. Already, the automaker said Tuesday, it's working to increase production of E-Transit to meet demand as it aims to boost annual electric vehicle production capacity to 600,000 by the end of next year.

E-Transit is the company's second all-electric vehicle, following the launch of the Mustang Mach-E in late 2020. The F-150 Lightning, a battery-electric version of America's best-selling truck and Ford's flagship product, is slated to launch this spring (including the version aimed at commercial and government fleet customers) with some 200,000 orders on the books.

E-Transit also is the first vehicle to launch under the umbrella of Ford Pro, the standalone commercial vehicle business Ford launched last year as it centers its turnaround strategy on its strength in the commercial vehicle segment, electrification and connected vehicle services. The automaker has committed to spending $30 billion on electrification through 2025, with E-Transit falling under that investment.

"E-Transit is a testament to the fact that an electric commercial fleet is no longer a vision of tomorrow, but a productivity-boosting modern reality," Kumar Galhotra, president of the Americas & International Markets Group for Ford, said in a statement.

With the launch of E-Transit, Kansas City Assembly in Claycomo, Missouri, became Ford's first plant in the U.S. to assemble both batteries and all-electric vehicles in-house. The company invested $100 million in the plant and added about 150 full-time jobs in vehicle and battery pack assembly to support E-Transit production.

"Today's production shipping announcement of the 2022 Ford Pro E-Transit vans to customers marks the beginning of a new era emerging from the Kansas City Assembly Plant," Chuck Browning, United Auto Workers vice president and director of the union's Ford department, said in a statement.

"By producing both gas and the electric versions of America's best-selling commercial van, members in Claycomo are working to meet current demand while transitioning to a strong EV future," he added. "UAW members are proud to take part in Ford's commitment to build a quality new technology product that adds jobs and investment in Kansas City."

Ford and some of its competitors are placing big bets on commercial and government fleet customers becoming the leaders in the electric and digital transition transforming the automotive industry.

General Motors Co. has launched an electric delivery van business. Stellantis NV has lined up Inc. as the first buyer for an electric version of its cargo van. And both automakers have electric versions of their popular pickup trucks planned.

Ford, meanwhile, has signaled that its commercial business is at the forefront of the company's growth strategy. Ford Pro is targeting revenue of $45 billion by 2025, up from $27 billion in 2019. Executives have said that commercial customers recognize the potential cost and productivity improvements that electric, digitally-connected vehicles offer.

Reuven Noyman isn't sure yet whether it'll save him money by switching from gas-powered vehicles to electric, but the owner of New York-based cleaning company On Time Steam Cleaning placed an order for two E-Transits due to environmental considerations.

"I placed the order for the electric ones because we're a green company," he said. "We haven't used chemicals since 2008. It's better for the environment and it just fits my company."

Noyman operates a fleet of six vehicles, a mix of Ford Transits and Nissan NVs. He plans to eventually order six E-Transits and maintain a fleet of battery-electric and gas-powered vehicles until EVs improve to the point where they're just as convenient for his company's needs.

"I wanted a cleaner truck to get away from gas, and plus my guys idle a lot when they're on jobs," he said. "Once the electric gets better and better, we'll switch all of them to electric."

E-Transit's lithium-ion battery has 68 kilowatt hours of capacity and has a targeted estimated range of 126 miles on a single charge. It starts at $44,990, including destination charges. It comes available with Pro Power Onboard, which allows drivers to use their vehicle as a mobile generator with up to 2.4 kilowatts of available power.

Charging solutions are available to E-Transit customers via Ford Pro Charging. And various connected subscription services, including telematics data, are available via Ford Pro Intelligence, the cloud-based platform underpinning Ford Pro's digital services. E-Transit comes standard with a 4G LTE modem and Ford Pro E-Telematics is complimentary for three years. E-Transit is available in eight configurations.

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