Ford's all-new global Transit full-size van made its public debut at the Hanover IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Germany last week.
Why should we care about the introduction of a new European commercial vehicle? Because it's destined to replace the ubiquitous Ford E-Series (Econoline) van on this continent as well.
The new generation Transit was developed under the One Ford product strategy for sale on six continents, including Europe, North America and other key markets.
Offering a broad array of body styles and derivatives, Ford says the all-new Transit is engineered to deliver class-leading load-carrying ability, exceptional toughness and durability, and to target best-in-class fuel economy.
"The Transit van is going global, and we’ve made it more productive, more fuel efficient and tougher than ever before," said Barb Samardzich, vice-president Product Development, Ford of Europe.
"With its legendary Transit and E-Series models, Ford has more experience of creating market-leading commercial vans around the world than any other manufacturer, and this all-new Transit will move the game on once again," she said.
Apart from competition by comparable General Motors and, to a lesser degree, Chrysler vans, Ford's big E-Series/Econoline van was for decades all but the default vehicle of choice for everything from tradesmen and delivery services to airport mini-buses.
That domination of the commercial market began to erode with the arrival of the larger and more refined Dodge/Freightliner/Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. More recently, Nissan has joined the fray with its NV van.
The all-new Transit, which was engineered in Ford’s commercial vehicle Centre of Excellence in Europe, is a much more direct competitor to the Sprinter and NV than the E-Series has been.
It is based on a new global platform, engineered to underpin the next-generation of Ford commercial vans worldwide.
When the big Transit arrives in North America (the diminutive Transit Connect is already successful here), it will eventually supplant the perennially best-selling E-Series range.
Globally, its comprehensive range of body styles and derivatives includes: Van, Double Cab-in-Van (DCiV), Kombi, Kombi Van and Bus models, plus Chassis Cab and Chassis Cowl versions.
The vans are available in three different lengths and two different roof heights with multiple gross vehicle mass options of up to 4.7 tonnes. This combines with the all-new (European) Transit Custom 1-tonne range to deliver a significantly expanded overall line-up.
The largest "Jumbo" van is capable of accommodating a massive 15.1 cubic-metres of cargo, and an all-new Chassis Cab SuperJumbo derivative will enable 5-merte floats or box bodies to be accommodated.
Particular emphasis has been placed on making the vehicle simple to modify for body builders, upfitters and camper van converters, so all customer requirements can be satisfied.
Here in North America, multiple roof heights and wheelbases will be available and the vans will be manufactured in Kansas City, alongside the Ford F-150.
Customers here will have a choice of several engines, including the proven 3.5-litre EcoBoost V-6 or an as yet unspecified diesel option; each features rear-wheel drive and at least 25 percent better fuel economy than a comparable E-Series.
The all-new Transit is scheduled to go on sale in North America by the fourth quarter of 2013.