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New Ford Transit makes Australian debut

Transition phase: Ford says its new Transit van is an important component of its “transition story” in Australia as its entire commercial vehicle stable is set to become fully imported from 2016.

New Transit van arrives in Cargo, Custom form at Ford event ahead of 2014 launch

Ford logo14 Aug 2013

FORD Australia is banking on its fully redesigned European-developed Transit range to improve its position in the tough commercial vehicle sales segment.

Making its Australian debut at the extravagant ‘Go Further’ event in Sydney yesterday, the new-generation Transit will reach showrooms early next year and will be sold across two main model lines – Cargo and Custom – with each offering a range of configurations.

Transit Cargo occupies the traditional large van and cab-chassis segment and will include multiple roof heights, single and double cab-chassis models and a 12-seater bus, while the Custom essentially replaces the current short-wheelbase Transit and will be customisable for the various trades.

The Custom will offer Ford’s ‘Sync’ voice-control connectivity system, along with newly developed load-space features such as an integrated roof rack system and a load-through hatch in the bulkhead for long items.

With the Falcon utility to be discontinued in 2016 with the closure of Ford’s local manufacturing operations, the company used the Sydney event to highlight its so-called “Australian business transformation” and the fully imported global models it will rely heavily upon once its factories in Victoria shut down.

While the established Ranger utility will play a key role, the new Transit – and in particular the smaller Custom – was portrayed by Ford management this week as an important component of the brand’s “transition story” in Australia.

“We are bringing Australians a full family of stylish, innovative, safe, high-quality, fuel-efficient and fun-to-drive vehicles,” said Ford Australia president and CEO Bob Graziano, who described the Custom as “a new kind of Transit, with a distinctive new design direction and a host of advanced features that will appeal to our customers”.

Introduced at the event by Ford Motor Company chief operating officer Mark Fields, the latest Transit is billed as the “most stylish and safest” example yet of the long-servicing light commercial series, and comes with a variety of claims such as “car-like” interior comfort and driving experience.

“These two cargo carriers are designed to meet the most demanding needs of van users, small and large,” Mr Fields said.

As previously reported, the new vans are an extension of the ‘One Ford’ strategy and based on global platforms, with the Cargo and Custom sharing underpinnings that can support vehicles with weight ratings between 2500kg and 4700kg across vans, buses and cab-chassis vehicles with front-drive, rear-drive or all-wheel drive.

The prime power source is Ford’s latest 2.2-litre Duratorq TDCi turbo-diesel engine. Ford Australia this week confirmed it will offer this oil-burner on the Custom, while the powertrain line-up for the Cargo is still to be announced.

Ford is targeting class-leading fuel economy plus lower maintenance, repair and insurance costs backed up by “exceptional” durability.

The new series also boasts high-strength steel unibody construction, expanded cargo capacity by as much as 10 per cent, and a cabin with more space, comfort, storage solutions and technology.

Overseas markets are offering Ford’s latest driver-assistance technology, including the Active City Stop autonomous braking system, although this is still to be confirmed for Australia.

Earlier this year, the new Transit was awarded a maximum five-star safety rating by the independent European NCAP crash-test authority.

Sales of the current Transit van/cab-chassis range are lineball with last year but the vehicle occupies less than 4 per cent of the 2.5-3.5t market segment and fewer than 350 units have been sold year-to-date, placing it miles behind the market-leading Toyota HiAce (3823 units, 41% share), Hyundai’s iLoad (2434 units, 26% share) and Volkswagen’s Transporter (1258 units, 13% share).

In the light bus segment (less than 20 seats), Ford has shifted 69 Transits so far this year compared to 1330 Toyota HiAce buses.

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