Ford Motor Company has ended nearly a year of speculation about the final form of its all-new Transit van, which will eventually replace its long-lived E-Series.
The automaker unveiled the new van, which will be built in the United States starting in 2013, during its “Go Further” event in September in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
The company also unveiled its new Transit Connect and Transit Connect Wagon during the same event.
‘One Ford’ Approach
The all-new Ford Transit, along with the all-new Ford Transit Connect, was developed under the company’s “One Ford” global product strategy. The vehicles will be sold in Europe, North America, and other worldwide markets with product ranges tailored to the needs of customers in each region.
According to Mike Levine, Ford Motor Company’s truck communications manager, the new Transit and Transit Connect demonstrate “Ford’s renewed commitment to the global van market.”
An American Solution
For North American customers, the Transit offers fleets several advantages over the E-Series van, according to Levine.
“In North America, Transit will have lower operating costs than comparable E-Series vans while featuring new roof heights and wheelbases that promise to help make customers more productive and efficient,” he said.
The North American version of the Transit will offer the choice of several engines, including the 3.5L EcoBoost or a diesel option. Each option features rear-wheel drive and, according to the automaker, at least 25-percent better fuel economy than the comparable E-Series. Levine noted that the North American Transit will be “at least” 300-lbs. lighter than the comparable E-Series that it replaces. The Transit will feature high-strength and ultra-high-strength/boron steels in its unibody construction.
The Transit will also have an all-new interior, including an updated instrument panel that incorporates a range of stowage solutions.
In Europe, a wide range of convenience features and driver assistance technologies featured on Ford’s latest passenger sedans can also be specified, including the Ford SYNC voice-activated, in-car connectivity system with emergency assistance, a rear-view camera, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning, according to the automaker.
North American Transit vans will be manufactured in Kansas City, alongside the Ford F-150.
Even though the E-Series may be headed to the pages of automotive history, it won’t be left in the past — just yet. (See sidebar: “Key Milestones in E-Series History.”)
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According to Levine, the E-Series Cargo and Passenger vans will continue production and stop “sometime” during the 2014 calendar-year. He added that Ford will continue producing the stripped chassis and cutaway E-series through most of the decade.
This phase-out of the E-Series at the same time of the phase-in of the Transit was designed specifically for Ford’s customers’ benefit, according to Levine. “We’re trying to provide as much flexibility for our customers as we can,” he said.
Making the Transit Connect-ion
The all-new Ford Transit Connect will feature a choice of short and long wheelbase versions and a low-CO2 powertrain. The U.S. version of the Transit Connect will offer a variety of gasoline powertrains tailored to the market.
“Transit Connect, which pioneered the small van segment in the U.S., will be more fuel efficient and will feature new configurations to better tailor the vehicle to meet customer business and personal needs,” Levine said.
The all-new Transit Connect will feature a car-like cockpit, Active City Stop, and Ford SYNC with emergency assistance, according to the company.
Ford is adding to the Transit Connect family with the Transit Connect Wagon, which Levine sees as a “big opportunity” for fleets, particularly in the taxi and people-mover markets.
The all-new Transit Connect is expected to go on sale in North America during the fourth quarter of 2013.
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Originally posted on Automotive Fleet