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An EV mystery

A photo of two Ford E-Transit electric vans, parked in a dealer's lot.

Two Ford E-Transit vans sit in a dealer's lot in New Jersey. Photo: by Jordan Neuhauser.

Alan's father and brother, plumbing and heating contractors in New York City, were having the hardest time finding new work vans. So they opted for the only kind available: an EV.

Why it matters: The wait time to buy a traditional Ford Transit cargo van is weeks or even longer, New York-area Ford dealers tell Alan. But handfuls of the electric version, the E-Transit, are available to anyone who walks in.

Backstory: Alan's brother and their father spent afternoons literally driving through dealers' parking lots — Chevy, Ford, Mercedes — to spot new cargo vans.

  • “What they have online is not what they have on the lot. And we'd try to call them, but it's miserable," Alan's brother says.
  • Each internal-combustion van they spotted was spoken for. But one vehicle that was consistently available at multiple dealers: the Ford E-Transit.

What's happening: Supply chain disruptions, and demand for e-commerce, have made cargo vans scarce.

  • "Regular transit vans will be a long time," one dealer in New Jersey tells Alan.
  • But not E-Transits — at least for now. "We have four," the dealer says.

The intrigue: From Ford's own data, finding an E-Transit would seem difficult.

  • The company in January reported more than 10,000 orders for the E-Transit, and two months later had recorded sales of just 528 of the vehicles. (Update: Ford on Friday provided updated sales figures for its E-Transit van: It’s sold 2,449 through May, up from 528 in March.)

Bottom line: The anecdotes could be mere anomaly. If nothing else, they're the latest reminder that national data can differ sharply from regional, day-to-day realities.

  • With Ford aiming to move its EV sales entirely online, these discrepancies with dealers may be the very thing the automaker is hoping to eliminate.
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