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Ford unveils new commercial vans

Transitional: Ford Australia is mulling the Transit Connect van as a potential competitor to the Volkswagen Caddy and Renault Kangoo.

Early 2014 Oz debut for next-gen Ford Transit that will replace E-Series van in US

7 Sep 2012

FORD unveiled its next-generation full-size Transit van in Europe overnight and confirmed the more efficient, more spacious and more usable load-lugger will come to Australia in early 2014.

The Blue Oval also revealed a new compact Transit Connect van and related Tourneo people-mover, both of which are under investigation for this market as a potential rival to small European vans such as the Volkswagen Caddy.

In Australia’s line-up, the big Transit will sit alongside the mid-size Transit Custom – equivalent to the current short wheelbase Transit – that Ford previewed with the Tourneo Custom people-mover at the Geneva motor show in March.

The new full-size Transit will replace the North American E-Series van range that kicked off in 1961 with the Econoline and be sold alongside the Connect, but the Custom will not be sold there.

An extension of the ‘One Ford’ strategy, the new vans are based on global platforms, with the Transit 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.

By 2015, Ford expects sales of vehicles using this platform to exceed 400,000 a year across 118 markets on six continents, adding to the seven million Transits already sold since 1965.

27 center imageFrom top: Ford Tourneo Connect, Tourneo Custom, E-Series.

Ford claims to have liberated up to 10 per cent more cargo volume with the new Transit and is targeting class-leading fuel economy plus lower maintenance, repair and insurance costs backed up by “exceptional” durability.

North American Transits will be built alongside the F-150 truck in Kansas City and will come with a choice of petrol and diesel engines, including a 3.5-litre V6 EcoBoost flagship claimed to be at least 25 per cent more efficient than the equivalent E-Series – which is available with a 6.8-litre iron-block petrol V10.

European medium and large Transits will use Ford’s latest 2.2-litre turbo-diesel unit, and Australia is expected to follow suit, while the Connect is claimed to feature “the latest low-CO2 powetrain technologies to deliver best-in-class fuel economy”.

For most markets, people-mover variants of the Custom and Connect will be called Tourneo – the latter renamed Transit Connect Wagon in North America.

The Tourneo Custom can seat up to nine people with up to 30 seating configurations on offer, while the Connect will be offered in five- or seven-seat guises, being pitched at chauffeurs and active families that need space and versatility.

Ford says it will include its Sync voice-operated telematics, infotainment and connectivity system in the Transit range.

Speaking at Ford’s ‘Go Further’ product event in Amsterdam overnight, Ford of Europe vice president of product development, Barb Samardzich forecast that the European light and medium commercial market would grow more than 20 per cent in the next five years as the economy recovers.

She said the Blue Oval is targeting a 15 per cent share of the predicted 2.2 million unit market, up from 8.6 per cent last year and representing 260,000 units a year in 2013 compared with 180,000 expected this year – with a target of 300,000 sales by 2016.

Ms Samardzich said Ford intended to go about this by “transforming our thinking about Transit”, which she claimed would be “the most comprehensive and most up-to-date line-up of commercial vehicles and people-movers in Europe”.

“Transit is a van,” she said. “Now, it is going to become a brand. A simple word change, you might think, but one that has tremendous implications for us.

“We know commercial vehicle needs are as diverse as the business landscape, we’ve made this all-new Transit even more useful for commercial customers. It’s all about choice and a myriad of customer solutions. You name it, we’ve got it.”

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