Electric Cars Reviewed

Ford E-Transit Custom review: Is this the best electric van on sale?

The Ford Transit Custom has long been the UK’s leading one-tonne van, so can the all-electric version help lead a shift in the LCV market?

This could be the best-selling electric vehicle in the UK — not just the best-selling electric van but, eventually, the most popular battery-powered vehicle on the roads.

The diesel-powered Ford Transit Custom has managed that feat a few times, outselling everything, including cars, but the new E-Transit Custom eLCV has its work cut out — BEV take up in the commercial world is low, at just 5%, and rather than demand growing, sales have dropped back this year.

Ford is doing its best to make the change easier, with E-Transit Custom variants to suit seemingly every business need, from an unnecessarily sporty MS-RT model that will appeal to owner-operators to family-friendly double cabs and an innovative Multicab model with five seats and a full-length cargo area.

Seeing E-Transit Customs making deliveries on every street corner could spark acceptance that diesel’s days are numbered, and it’s the regular panel van that we’ll be seeing leading that transition. Coincidentally, it’s also the model I’ve got the keys to.

Design, interior and technology

At first glance, there’s little to separate the E-Transit Custom from the regular diesel-powered model, but a funky graduated grille gives the game away. Beyond that, it looks as modern and conventional as its oil-burning brethren.

Conventional, that is, except the MS-RT. That model is available in a range of bold colours with an aero package that includes a roof spoiler, side skirts and front splitter. It gets a power boost to back up the statement it makes, but more reserved models offer better value for money.

Ford E-Transit Custom

Whichever model you pick, it follows the usual form for a medium-sized van — a triangle at the front with a box behind it. Ford makes it look neat, with a sharp-edged front end housing headlights that seem to squint, flowing around the side to a full-length crease that gives solidity to the design. Extended wheel arches mask a slightly swept shape to the van, while the rear has bold vertical lights and a lower cutout that mimics the back of the popular Ford Ranger pickup.

Ford has invested in the cab, with the dashboard featuring two large digital screens. In front of the driver, you’ll find an eight-inch digital instrument panel, customisable (to a degree) to show essential information alongside extra details such as navigation instructions, playlist particulars, or trip computer readings.

An even larger, 13-inch infotainment screen is in the middle of the cab. Nearly everything is controlled from here, including the heating and ventilation. Happily, while these are digital rather than physical, at least they’re not buried behind menus, so changing the cab’s temperature is quick and easy. There is a physical volume control, which is very handy, and a couple of other buttons for minor controls, but you’ll need to get used to using Ford’s generally good Sync operating system. If that’s too much, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are in place, ready to mirror your phone apps.

Operators can plug in controls for devices such as rooftop light beacons that can be controlled directly from the infotainment screen. This makes installation significantly more straightforward, and easier for the driver to operate systems through a consistent and clear interface. It’s an impressive system, with logic circuits that allow you to build up complex controls, such as preventing a driver from selecting a drive gear if equipment is in use elsewhere in the van.

Ford Pro connected services are also a boon for fleet managers, with everything from location tracking to pre-drive checks able to be managed from a simple and effective app.

Two passenger seats are spacious enough for a couple of mates, but they’ll need to be good friends. Moving the gear selector to the dashboard frees up plenty of legroom, though, so knees won’t be knocked repeatedly. Elsewhere, there’s plenty of storage for bottles, paperwork and phones, with USB-A and USB-C sockets for charging.

If you do need to stop and work — or just eat lunch — then you’ll appreciate the steering wheel. This folds to a comfortable angle or entirely flat, with a tray so it can be used as a laptop stand or a flat table. The E-Transit Custom really is turning into a mobile office.

Ford E-Transit Custom flip-up steering wheel
The E-Transit Custom’s clever steering wheel converts into a useful flat surface

Battery, motor and performance

Ford fits a 64kWh battery under the floor of the E-Transit Custom. While it’s the same platform as the diesel model, it was designed to house an electric drivetrain from the outset, so there’s been no compromise in space.

The battery feeds a 134bhp motor at the van’s rear, although there’s also a 216bhp option if you need a little more oomph. Both deliver a healthy 306lb ft of torque.

Performance is pleasing rather than potent, although you’ll never feel like you’re being left behind. Dashing from a side road into traffic isn’t stressful thanks to the instant torque available from the electric motor, although the push soon fades as speeds increase. Opting for the more powerful motor will improve things a little, but not significantly. Cruising along the autobahn, we couldn’t get the speedometer to read beyond 117km/h, which is 73mph — more than enough to (legally) travel on the UK’s roads.

The MS-RT has its own motor option, with a 281bhp output offering enough poke to keep up with most hot hatches.

Load the van up, and performance is still strong. We had around 400kg in our test vehicle (well short of the 1,062kg maximum allowed on our van), which is a typical load, and we could barely tell we had anything in the back.

The weight of the battery pack helps the van’s handling, with the low centre of gravity keeping body roll to a minimum. A well-considered steering setup means it’s almost fun, and certainly the best van to drive right now.

The E-Transit Custom will go for 209 miles on a full charge. For once, that seems pessimistic: our time in the van, which was on mostly flat roads but included reaching v-max on the autobahn while carrying 400kg, saw the onboard computer showing economy of 18kWh/100km, or about 3.4 miles per kWh. That translates to a real-world range of 217 miles.

It’ll recharge at 125kW, with 10-80% taking 39 minutes. Ford’s own testing demonstrated that a 10-minute top-up would add 50 miles of range.

Payload and practicality

Ford E-Transit Custom load area
The standard E-Transit Custom has a 5.8m3 load area

Mounting all the electric gubbins under the van’s floor means space inside is unaffected. The load box measures 2,602mm long in the L1 van, with the longer L2 extending that to 3,002mm. A load-through option adds a flap that allows long, thin loads to poke through under the passenger seat, adding another 448mm. The maximum height inside is 1,433mm, with the load area measuring 1,777mm at its widest point, giving the L1 van a load volume of 5.8m3, with the L2 reaching up to 6.8m3.

Payload for our test vehicle, a Limited specification model, was 1,062kg, although some models can reach up to 1,088kg. A kerb weight of 2,163kg with a gross vehicle mass of 3,225kg doesn’t leave much spare. Towing limits are impressive at 2.3 tonnes, although using this will significantly affect the vehicle’s range.

Access is through twin barn door-style openings at the rear, and a single sliding door on the van’s passenger side. A second side door is available as an option.

Price and specification

The E-Transit Custom range starts at a basic price of £43,380 before fees and taxes. That’s over £10,000 more expensive than the entry-level diesel-powered model, so running costs will need to be significantly lower to make that back.

The good news is that, even in these times of expensive energy, cost savings on fuel will be significant. Get your drivers to charge at home, and reimburse them easily thanks to recordings made by the Ford Pro app, and you can save around £180 every 1,000 miles. Charging at super-expensive motorway charges will eat into those savings, so bear that in mind.

The E-Transit Custom range starts with the Trend specification (Ford isn’t making the basic Leader spec available), which comes with climate control, heat pump, cruise control, front parking sensors, and a reversing camera. Upgrading to the Limited model, which we had, adds £1,800 but brings with it an artificial leather steering wheel, heated door mirror, alloy wheels, keyless entry and start, a Thatcham-approved alarm, heated seat and steering wheel, and a load through option from the cargo area. With its 160kW (218hp) motor, the more powerful Sport model costs £48,720 but adds a roof spoiler, stripes, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Those who need to make a statement can opt for the MS-RT, with its eye-catching style and entertaining 210kW (286hp) motor, but will pay handsomely for it: it’s £60,490.

Extending the van from the short wheelbase L1 to the longer L2 model adds £700. Double cab-in van, Kmobi and innovative Multicab models are also available.


The Ford Transit Custom is not only the best-selling van in the UK, it’s also the best. Or at least it was. The E-Transit Custom is a better proposition, assuming it works for your business — I won’t pretend that it’s right for everybody, especially if your day is spent barrelling along the nation’s motorways with a full load and a trailer, or you don’t have access to your own charger.

But for many, many businesses, this is the van that could kick-start the transition to electric power. It’s every bit as capable as the regular diesel-powered van, doesn’t compromise on cargo volume, and drives better than any other commercial vehicle on the road.

It’s staggeringly good.

Ford E-Transit Custom

Ford E-Transit Custom Limited L1H1

Price: £45,180 plus VAT and OTR
Powertrain: rear-motor, rear-wheel-drive
Battery: 74kWh (64kWh usable)
Power: 136bhp
Torque: 306lb ft
Top speed: 70mph
0-62mph: 12.8 seconds
Range: 209 miles
Consumption: 3.3m/kWh
Charging: up to 125kW

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