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Ford workhorse goes ECOnetic

In the van: Ford has waved its ECOnetic wand over its Transit van as it tries to reinvigorate its workhorse.

Transit goes green with ECOnetic diesel as Ford chases more van sales

Ford logo1 Jun 2010

FORD Australia will add a second fuel-saving ECOnetic diesel model to its line-up in July, this time in its workhorse Transit van range.

While there is no sign yet of the ECOnetic Focus or Mondeo models already on sale in Europe, the UK-made Transit ECOnetic joins the Fiesta under Ford’s green branding in Australia, priced from $36,490 – a $500 premium over the standard short-wheelbase Transit TDCi diesel on which it is based.

And as with the Fiesta, Ford has been quick out of the blocks to compare the fuel consumption of its new green leader with rivals, saying the new, leaner diesel Transit’s 7.2 litres per 100km combined fuel economy is superior to the full-sized diesel van market sales leaders, the Toyota Hiace (8.6L/100km) and Hyundai iLoad (8.5L/100km).

While Citroen’s 2.0-litre diesel Dispatch and its Peugeot van sibling, the Expert, can match the new Transit’s fuel consumption, the Ford has the edge in CO2 emissions, at 189 grams per kilometre compared with 194g/km for the French twins.

The Transit ECOnetic’s fuel performance also is superior to the standard diesel Transit (8.2L/100km and 216/g/km), even though it retains the 2.2-litre four-cylinder Duratorq engine that powers the front-wheel-drive variants.

The fuel gains for the ECOnetic model come courtesy of a number of tweaks, including a recalibration of the engine, low rolling resistance tyres, low friction oil, aerodynamic wheel covers and gear-shift indicator. Available only with a five-speed manual transmission, the Transit ECOnetic is speed-limited to 110km/h.

27 center imageDespite the engine recalibration, power and torque remain at 85kW at 3500 rpm and 300Nm from 1800-2000 rpm. Cargo capacity is unaltered at 6.55m3 but maximum payload is up from 1100kg to 1172kg.

Ford will be hoping the new fuel-sipper will add the same green halo effect as the Fiesta to the marketing of Transit, sales of which are down 20 per cent this year in a market segment up 27.4 per cent.

Ford is blaming stock contraints for the drop, saying additional shipments should address the issue soon.

Like the Fiesta, the company will not be expecting the ECOnetic Transit to dominate sales, with a limited number of vehicles coming from Ford’s Southhampton factory, in the UK, to fill a niche demand.

Ford Australia marketing, sales and service vice president Beth Donovan said the company had been looking for opportunities to extend the ECOnetic range since it introduced the Fiesta ECOnetic in late 2009.

“Offering low fuel economy and emissions to commercial van customers, through a range of ECOnetic technologies, was the logical next step to build upon the extremely successful launch of the Fiesta ECOnetic," she said.

This year, the Ford Transit is ranked sixth in van sales in Australia with just 4.7 per cent share, trailing the top-selling Toyota Hiace (33 per cent of the market), the fast-growing Hyundai iLoad (29.7 per cent), VW’s Caddy (9.1 per cent) and Transporter (6.7 per cent) and ageing Mitsubishi Express (5.0 per cent).

Worldwide, it is one of the biggest-selling commercial vehicles in history, with six million sold since it was launched 45 years ago.

Ford Transit range pricing:
FWD 2.2 SWB $35,990
FWD 2.2 SWB ECOnetic $36,490
FWD 2.2 MWB $37,990
RWD 2.4 SWB $39,490
RWD 2.4 MWB $41,490
RWD 2.4 LWB $43,990
RWD 2.4 LWB Jumbo $46,290

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