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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ford, like other manufacturers, publishes information to assist companies which upfit commercial vehicles with special-purpose bodies or interior fittings. At Ford, this is the Body Builder Advisory Service. One document which recently became available is the presentation from the e-Transit Measuring Session on 2021 October 05.

In the process of explaining how to work with the e-Transit to add interior equipment (to the van) or to mount a body on the chassis-cab or cutaway, they show how the EV components are mounted to the Transit unitized body and structure.

It is apparent that Ford did not modify the Transit unibody to make it an EV, which means that whatever Ford did, a DIY builder could potentially do to convert an ICE Transit or similar vehicle.
  • The rear springs and beam axle are replaced by an independent suspension and EV drive unit (the drive unit apparently the base Mach-E rear unit) mounted to the stock Transit structure by a subframe.
    • Automotive tire Automotive lighting Hood Tire Motor vehicle
    • (grey is stock Transit structure, light blue is subframe, blue-grey is suspension and axle shafts, copper is drive unit)
  • The battery pack - apparently taken directly from the standard-range Mach-E - is mounted to the Transit's main frame rails (not the rocker area) via a large framework which includes crash energy absorption structures on each side, replacing the fuel tank and exhaust system.
    • Rectangle Line Font Parallel Electric blue
    • Font Slope Parallel Electric blue Rectangle
  • The engine and transmission are replaced by the auxiliary components (presumably mostly from the Mach-E, given the battery choice) mounted to a subframe, with the spare tire underneath.
    • World Font Vehicle Urban design Motor vehicle
Some other trivia:
  • the EV adds approximately 600 pounds of curb weight over the base 3.5L PFDI V6 engine configuration
  • the Transit has a vacuum brake booster (not a Hydroboost or iBooster, for instance), so the EV has a vacuum pump
  • the spare tire is relocated from the rear to the front, apparently to protect the EV drive unit in a rear collision (and perhaps to absorb energy in a front collision)
  • while promotional material lists a range of 126 miles, that is only with the low roof; the medium and high roof versions have a range of 116 and 108 miles, respectively
 

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Good find Mr. b.

It is apparent that Ford did not modify the Transit unibody to make it an EV, which means that whatever Ford did, a DIY builder could potentially do to convert an ICE Transit or similar vehicle.
Like you write, it looks like Ford has gone almost completely to the component replacement route for either a EV or an ICE with the same type of chassis.

Large battery attachment structures, "Megabrace" ? This has got to add a lot of weight and complexity to the conversion. Sandy Monroe is going to freak out!

Maybe if the conversion goes south, like the Chevy Bolt, Ford figures it can easily convert them back to ICE powered!

I'm surprised by the generous 9,500 lbs. GVWR, 6,000 lbs. rear GAWR ratings. I wonder how realistic these ratings are with the single wheel rear axle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Like you write, it looks like Ford has gone almost completely to the component replacement route for either a EV or an ICE with the same type of chassis.
Not just the same type (all EVs have generally similar chassis to ICE models), but exactly the same "body in white" (complete unitized body and structure).

Large battery attachment structures, "Megabrace" ? This has got to add a lot of weight and complexity to the conversion. Sandy Monroe is going to freak out!
The large battery mounting frame wouldn't be used in a vehicle designed as an EV or for both ICE and EV powertrains - it's just Ford's way to offer a commercial EV without designing a new model or new generation of the existing model. The structure is huge, but the EV is only 600 pounds heavier than with the lightest ICE powertrain, so it can't be too bad.

With the F-150 Lightning Ford didn't do this - they used the same cab and box, but put them on a new EV-specific chassis. The F-150 is a much higher-production vehicle (about ten times as many sold per year) and sold to a very different customer base, so it justifies much greater development and tooling costs.

I doubt Munro will bother tearing down a Transit, since public interest would be minimal and commercial customers for information about this sort of adaptation would be few. The components are already well known from Mach-E teardowns, other than the rear suspension and subframe, which are pretty straightforward.

Maybe if the conversion goes south, like the Chevy Bolt, Ford figures it can easily convert them back to ICE powered!
The Bolt just needs a battery replacement due to rare battery defects; there's nothing wrong with the design of the vehicle. No one will be converting any EV to ICE; it would be cheaper to scrap them and buy new, even in a Transit where the conversion would be relatively easy.

I'm surprised by the generous 9,500 lbs. GVWR, 6,000 lbs. rear GAWR ratings. I wonder how realistic these ratings are with the single wheel rear axle.
Regular Transit SRW GVWR ranges from 8,750 lb (T-150) to 9,500 lb (T-350); DRW GVWRs are higher, but 9,500 pounds is no problem for single rear wheels and tires. The suspension can be designed for whatever GAWR is desired, and appears to be unique to the Transit (rather than the lower-rated Mach-E suspension or more expensive F-150 Lightning suspension). Regular Transit rear GAWR for SRW models vary from 5,070 pounds to 6,000 pounds. Unlike SUVs and even the F-150, the Transit is designed to be a real working vehicle for commercial users.

The only thing that's a little different about capacities and configurations is that the Transit chassis-cab and cutaway are normally available only with dual rear wheels, but the E-Transit is single rear wheel only, even in the chassis-cab and cutaway.
 

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With the F-150 Lightning Ford didn't do this - they used the same cab and box, but put them on a new EV-specific chassis. The F-150 is a much higher-production vehicle (about ten times as many sold per year) and sold to a very different customer base, so it justifies much greater development and tooling costs.
The F-150 L may have the same bed. The cab has a frunk and the floor pan is probably radically different to take advantage of the space freed-up by the lack of need for a transmission tunnel.

Ford F-150 Lightning
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I think Sandy's reaction to the extra weight and complexity of the e-Transit would be like his reaction to the cooling system of the Mach-E at ~1:15 into this video:
... and that's why Sandy Munro runs a consulting business which doesn't actually design anything that has to work with a a manufacturer's product line and business environment. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The F-150 L may have the same bed. The cab has a frunk and the floor pan is probably radically different to take advantage of the space freed-up by the lack of need for a transmission tunnel.
Perhaps it wasn't clear, but my point was not how similar the Lightning is to an ICE F-150 - just the opposite, it was that the Lightning is so different.

The rear suspension is specific to the Lightning (as the rear suspension is to the E-Transit), and the frame is unique (nice image (y))... and yes the radiator support is missing and the grill is attached to the hood (nothing else is required to accommodate the frunk), and presumably the cab floor is different (although if they keep the big console it won't matter if the transmission tunnel is still there).

In contrast to the Lightning, the E-Transit has an unmodified structure (not like the Lightning's special frame) and body (complete with empty transmission tunnel). It even uses EV components from another model (the Mach-E), while the Lightning gets all new components.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The subframe for the battery is somewhat similar to what Yabert did in his Westfalia T3 with Chevy Bolt drivetrain, where he mounted a salvaged EV battery pack (from a Bolt) under the frame rails of a van (a VW T3 Transporter), with formed sheet metal brackets down each side.

(from post #102)

The Bolt pack has a hump on top for a small second layer of modules (like the Mach-E's larger pack), so Yabert had to cut through the frame and floor and make extensive structural changes at that end; the E-Transit uses the smaller Mach-E pack so it has no significant hump and that sort of modification is not required.

Yabert used the Bolt drive unit (like Ford using the Mach-E unit), but the VW already had a trailing arm suspension so the drive unit fit and he didn't have to change suspension as Ford did.
 
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