The Ford Transit in Europe has sold over 5,000,000 units in 40 years, making it the most successful commercial vehicle on the continent. Redesigning it was not a task Ford of Europe has taken lightly, so the new Transit features improvements in nearly every area.
Some of the highlights include bold new styling with the largest Blue Oval emblem ever to appear on a European Ford product (it’s nine inches wide); a choice of seven engines including six diesels and one gasser; short, medium and long wheelbase versions with low, medium or high roofs, a new self-charging waterproof ignition key, a more car-like suspension, a relocated gearshift lever for easier walk-through access… the list goes on and on just like the dizzying array of commercial configurations for our own F-150.
Unfortunately news of the new Transit just broke and this tiny pic is the only one Ford has available. We’re interested to see this thing from every angle so when they’re available we’ll have all the official pics in an updated post.
The full press release with more pics and details is after the jump.
NEW FORD TRANSIT: THE BEST GETS BETTER
The new Ford Transit
Dunton, England, January 13, 2006 – The most successful commercial vehicle range in Europe – the Ford Transit – enters a new era in its long and successful life, with a series of extensive improvements to keep it ahead of the pack.
The new Transit is the first of many significant new products being unveiled by Ford of Europe in 2006. As befits its iconic image both within Ford and in the industry, the new Transit leads an impressive line-up of models coming from the blue oval this year. These include the all-new Ford Galaxy, and the Ford S-MAX - an additional model for the Ford of Europe product portfolio which has its origins in the Ford SAV Concept crossover shown at auto shows across Europe in 2005.
Previewing New Transit: Improved Throughout
The rugged yet stylish design of the new Transit is tough yet stylish; individual but functional. All attributes that Ford was keen to communicate with this new Transit.
Interior and exterior, back to front, on the surface and under the skin, every area of Ford's popular workhorse has been examined and improved. The extensive upgrade is the result of several years of development by Ford engineers, and are the most significant changes for six years.
New standard equipment, new model variants and engines, and a host of convenience features make the Transit a perfect 'mobile office' as well as durable load carrier.
Redesigned with real customer input
The real force behind the improvements in the new Transit has been customer needs. Ford's designers and engineers worked hard to reflect the needs of the today's commercial vehicle owner/driver in the final product. For example, the wide variety of security and locking options now available came directly from detailed customer research, as did many of the interior convenience features. Also, the all-new low-roof, medium wheelbase version is being introduced to respond directly to customer demand.
The extensive range of body choices, engines and configurations are all designed to ensure that customers receive the vehicle that is exactly right for them.
"When setting out to improve the Transit, we paid particular attention to an increasingly important customer base, the artisan or single-vehicle owner," explained Barry Gale, Chief Engineer, Commercial Vehicles. "These customers told us their van was a statement about them and their company, so it not only needed to be functional, reliable and durable, but stylish too. Additionally, they wanted a vehicle that was pleasurable to drive – that it should never feel like taking a step down from a passenger car.
"Customers will find, in the 2006 Transit, that we have delivered fully in all these areas," he added.
A fresh new look inside and out
Exterior design changes were intended to give the vehicle a stronger, more contemporary profile and strong graphics when viewed head on.
The most noticeable changes are at the front where the bold new three-bar grille sits between new, more vertical headlamps. Sited in the middle of the new grill, at nine inches (23.5 centimetres) it is the largest Ford oval within the company's European vehicle portfolio. The use of such a large oval is to demonstrate the great pride the company has in the vehicle, to denote it's long heritage in the commercial vehicle heritage, and to give the Transit a bold 'rear view presence'.
The Transit will feature a range of distinctive new colours, as well as new-style wheels, wheel trims and exterior trim detailing.
Major changes have also been made to the Transit interior, reflecting the desire of users that van interiors should contain the same level of user-friendly features as passenger cars. A completely new dashboard, instruments, switches and a new steering wheel face the driver, while new and innovative storage solutions ensure that Transit is now an even more convenient workplace.
A significant change in the cabin sees the gear lever moved up to the dashboard – giving a more car-like driving position, and improved ergonomics. It also gives a completely clear floor area from the driver's side to the passenger's side for "walk through" access. A two-tone instrument panel trim and higher grade cloth trim complete the picture.
New durable and economical engines
The new Transit range will offer six diesel engines and one petrol engine. The diesel options include new 2.2-litre and 2.4-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel engines, matched with either five-speed or six speed Durashift manual transmissions (depending on the chosen engine). These Ford-built 2.2-litre and 2.4-litre Duratorq TDCi engines form the backbone of the new Transit’s powertrain family. They are the newest products from Ford Motor Company's ongoing co-operation with PSA Peugeot Citroën on state-of-the-art diesel engines and are the first units to be designed specifically for light and medium commercial vehicle applications. All Transit diesel power units are compliant with Euro IV emissions standards and feature latest generation common-rail technology. They have been designed to accommodate forthcoming emissions legislation and to deliver improved performance with reduced fuel consumption, while the engine layout has been revised for ease of servicing and repair.
Spoilt for choice
The Transit has become famous for offering customers exactly what they need, with a huge range of body and engine variations. Whether working for the one-vehicle operator doing business in towns and cities, or travelling up and down the motorway as part of a large fleet, the Transit has the variant to fit the bill.
With the new improvements, Ford is providing even more choice. There are 60 basic structures and body styles, including:
- Short, medium and long-wheelbase plus extended frame options
- A choice of low, medium and high roof vans, as well as single and double chassis cabs and low and medium roof buses
- A heavy-duty front axle
- Kombis and Kombi vans
- Transit customers can now also choose an all-new low roof, medium wheelbase version with three rows of seats and improved luggage space
- Ford's Special Vehicle Operations team can also handle any specification or request not covered by the wide range choice.
The drivers' favourite
Ford has listened to its customers and made the Transit's interior a more enjoyable place to be, with a host of new convenience features. They include three levels of heating and ventilation, four trim options including leather, ten seating arrangement options, cruise control availability for the first time, and a new instrument cluster. The new Transit also boasts a self-charging waterproof ignition key – the first vehicle in the sector ever to be fitted with one. Configurable locking system covers are available, and security has been improved all round.
In terms of driving dynamics, Ford engineers have worked hard to ensure the new Transit has driving and handling characteristics that are even more like the company's acclaimed passenger cars. The basic suspension layout remains unchanged from the outgoing model, with MacPherson strut front suspension and a Hotchkiss rear axle, but a number of significant detail changes were made within this. As a result of these and other changes, NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) has been cut by some 20 per cent.
There is a high degree of commonality between front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive suspension in terms of configuration; the front anti-roll bar has been relocated, while a quicker steering ratio is employed. Safety features include Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Brake Traction Control System (BTCS) and an Electronic Stability Programme (ESP).
Security and Safety
The outgoing Transit received many international awards for its outstanding security features. The new Transit builds on this success with an even more comprehensive list of security features, engineered to frustrate and deter would-be thieves and so improve insurance ratings and lower insurance costs for owners.
Two levels of alarm are available, including Thatcham Category 1, while the Transit also features Passive Anti-Theft System (PATS), hood lock, cable-free doors and the industry’s first configurable locking and unlocking security system. Configurable locking means customers can choose which doors unlock in which order, when selected buttons are pressed. There are six combinations to choose from at purchase.
Protecting the occupants in an accident is an important function of the vehicle’s structure and Ford engineers were keen to improve on the already high standards set by the Transit. A driver’s airbag is standard (120-litre passenger airbag optional), while seat-mounted side, head and thorax airbags are available as Transit options for the first time. In addition the redesigned front structure further enhances low speed impact resistance.
40 years and still going strong
Last year the Transit celebrated its 40th year on sale, during which it has become the definitive vehicle in the light commercial sector – seeing off a host of impressive rivals. More than five million Ford Transits have been made and sold across the globe since 1968. Ford is confident the new Transit will prove just as popular as the vehicle it succeeds – the outgoing model won the International Van of the Year title in 2001.
Peter Fleet, Ford of Europe's Commercial Vehicle Director – Marketing Sales and Service, said: "Loyal customers tell us that they respect Transit as a tough professional that is hard working, trustworthy, dependable and capable of meeting just about any business or personal need.
"The new 2006 Ford Transit takes these market-leading strengths and moves them to the next generation. Existing customers will love the new Transit. And the new features, styling and dynamic changes will ensure that many new customers, who take pride in themselves and their business, will also take pride in placing their name on the side of a new Transit."