• Sep 1, 2009
Ford Transit Connect in Los Angeles -- click above image for high-res gallery

Things that don't surprise us Late August, 2009 Edition: Brett Favre acting like a spoiled seven-year-old, devastating fires threatening huge chunks of drought-plagued Los Angeles and the fact that Ford sold over 2,000 Transit Connect vans in its first month here in the States. Why? Because Ford's little van is not only a smart product, but it fills a much needed and until now empty niche.

For more than a decade, Ford has been selling smart but small little panel vans (starting with the Escort Van) all over Europe. Small businesses in need of a right-sized, practical work truck flock to them and are rewarded with a low initial cost, low total cost and good mileage. Especially the diesels. But here in the U.S., no such vehicle existed. Until last month.

To quote Ford, "Around the country, small business operators and fleet customers are quickly adding Ford Transit Connect vehicles as an efficient mobility solution for their respective enterprises." Sure, these same businesses and fleets could have chosen something like a Chevy HHR Panel, but those were designed first and foremost as passenger cars and the lack of cargo space proves it. Whereas the Transit Connect was a work vehicle from the start, featuring useful items like dual-sliding rear doors and a low load-in height.

What types of businesses are buying the Transit Connects? "Laundry mats, caterers, door and lock companies, painters, electricians, restaurant suppliers, satellite dish installers, carpet installers and commercial carpet cleaners." Again, companies that have traditionally been underserved by large platforms like F-150s or Econolines. Full press release below the fold.




Press Release

FIRST FULL MONTH OF TRANSIT CONNECT SALES TOP 2,000; FORD VAN HITS AS SMALL BUSINESS OUTLOOK IMPROVES
  • Ford's new Transit Connect compact van enters the market with a strong first full month of sales, topping 2,000 units
  • Vehicles are selling under 10 days of arrival on dealer lots, significantly quicker than current industry norms
  • Optimism among small business owners is up nearly 7 percent in the second quarter of 2009; the number of owners who say now is the time to expand is up 3 percent over the last quarter
  • Reflecting market optimism, 9 percent of small business owners plan to hire additional staff within the next three months

Dearborn, Mich., Aug. 31, 2009 –The first full month of sales for the 2010 Ford Transit Connect tops 2,000 units. Vehicles are selling in fewer than 10 days of arriving on dealer lots, significantly quicker than industry norms.

Around the country, small business operators and fleet customers are quickly adding Ford Transit Connect vehicles as an efficient mobility solution for their respective enterprises. In Charlotte, N.C., seven Transit Connect vehicles were sold to Neil Medical Group, a firm that delivers medical supplies to nursing homes and convalescent centers.
Entrepreneurs recognize a smart business solution when they see it. And they are acting quickly, to put Transit Connect to work on their behalf. "Anxious Transit Connect customers are buying up vehicles in stock, regardless of trim level or equipment," said Butch Gosline, commercial business manager for Ford's Mid-Atlantic region. "They want a Transit Connect, and they want it working for them right away."

With heavy traffic, urban hustle and bustle, tight parking, retail commerce, tourism and hospitality, it's no surprise that Chicago businesses large and small have taken Ford's versatile new Transit Connect to heart. According to Jody Slucker, commercial business manager in Ford's North Central region, the Chicago market leads the nation in Transit Connect fleet and business sales. "A customer called a Chicago dealer, asking about Transit Connect," Slucker offered. "When the salesperson responded that the first two units had just arrived, the caller promised to be there in 15 minutes. He took both vehicles."

Early Transit Connect buyers represent a cross section of the small business landscape, including laundry mats, caterers, door and lock companies, painters, electricians, restaurant suppliers, satellite dish installers, carpet installers and commercial carpet cleaners.

Meanwhile, three recent surveys of small business owners show entrepreneurs are seeing positive marketplace signals. With cautious optimism, business owners continue to judiciously evaluate costs and seek viable, efficient solutions for their businesses. "We see rising optimism among small business owners and strong demand for arriving Transit Connect vehicles among this group as reflections of an encouraging economic uptick," said Len Deluca, director, Ford Commercial Truck Sales and Marketing.

The Quarterly Indicators newsletter (http://www.sba.gov/advo/research/sbqei0902.pdf ), released by the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy on Aug. 12, 2009, reports that small business owners are seeing some economic light at the end of the tunnel. For the second quarter of 2009, small business owners and the public were increasingly optimistic.

In separate reports, the National Federation of Independent Business's (NFIB) optimism index and the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment survey both show positive trending. The NFIB optimism index is up by 6.9 percent, and the number of entrepreneurs responding that "now is a good time to expand" is up by 3 percent. As expansion objectives are somewhat tempered by bleak retail sales across business categories, small business owners continue to seek smart solutions to improve efficiency and control costs.

A demonstration of this gathering optimism is the NFIB finding of 9 percent of small business owners planning to add staff within the next three months. Rising consumer optimism is up 13.5 percent in the latest University of Michigan findings.

With Transit Connect vehicles arriving at Ford dealerships nationwide, small business owners are reacting positively and decisively to this versatile and fuel-efficient business tool. The Southern California region is leading the retail market for Transit Connect sales to nonbusiness users. Dealers report sales to a diverse range of hobbyists needing extra space to efficiently haul everything from show dogs to motor scooters.

An EPA rating of 22 mpg city/25 highway – combined with the payload capacity of a full-size half-ton pickup truck – positions Transit Connect as a compelling alternative for busy, cost-conscious proprietors and retail buyers alike.

"Dealers in my region are telling me Transit Connect is generating incremental sales," said Gosline. "The unique combination of payload, compact overall dimensions and fuel economy is bringing in customers they've never seen before."



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 39 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      What types of businesses are buying the Transit Connects? "Laundry mats, cat erers, door and lock com panies, pain ters, electrici ans, rest aurant suppliers, sat ellite dish installers, car pet installers and commercial car pet cleaners."

      There. Edited for con sistency ;-)
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Transit Connect has sold over 600,000 units worldwide since it was introduced in 2003. If they keep selling at the 2000/month pace, Ford will have surpassed 1st-year sales target for this vehicle.

        Please don't refer to this vehicle as the Transit. The Transit is the Transit Connect's big brother. It is a Sprinter competitor over there, and I believe outsells it.

        http://videos.streetfire.net/video/077-Top-Gear-Ford-Transit_183699.htm
      KLVN
      • 5 Years Ago
      i just bought the new 2010 ford transit, drove it around for seven days and the 'check engine' light came on (after only 400 miles). took it to the dealership yesterday to have it checked and they said there was nothing wrong. spoke with an unbiased mechanic outside of ford and he said, 'bullsh*t.' apparently, i need to ask for the 'code' that comes up in the electronic diagnostic that they do, which apparently the dealership is conceiling from me to deny my ability to claim this on my notes if future problems arises (hence denying me my consumer right to claim lemon law). why are dealerships so sleazy? so let me tell you from actually having driven this car, what it's like: the acceleration is not good on the hwy, but it's best suited on city streets, the gas/mileage is very good for this kind of car, the insulation is (well there hardly isn't any), so the acoustics in the cabin is like this ~ there will be a bit of an echo, which i don't mind when i turn up the cd player and it's great when you sing while you drive [you can hear yourself], also there are huge blind spots while driving because the side doors do not have windows [if only they had made the side-view mirrors on the doors bigger with blind-spot visibility capable]. also, when i have the ignition on and the a/c is blowing and the car is parked, every five to ten minutes the engine makes a louder noise (i was told by the dealership that this was typical). today i pick up my car from having an alarm system installed by the dealership and i'm going to demand they tell me what the 'code' was. anyone that can clue me in on what i should do, please feel free to write.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @KLVN
        Also, the light might be something major, or something as simple as a gas cap not tight enough.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @KLVN
        The engine revs up for the A/C, small 4-cylinders have done that for eons. My old 96 2.3l Ranger did it (and still runs perfect even w/ over 150-175K miles (odometer went out 7 years ago). My 08 2.3l Ranger does it as well. It is normal with engines that little.

        Complaining about echo? Lol, dude. It's a panel van. WTH did you expect? XD

        As for the check engine, it could be anything (or nothing) so go to another dealer.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @KLVN
        You might look at other area dealers. You're not restricted to the one who sold it to you. Let them know you're going to walk and you might get better treatment. Dealerships make a good deal of their money on service.

        I would love it if you did a blog posting somewhere (blogs are a snap to setup and free) with pictures and just tell us your experience with the vehicle over the next few months.

        I don't plug my blog here typically, but for your reference on a free blog site: http://www.danmosqueda.blogspot.com . To be frank, I really don't like Blogger, where my site is. I really need to move to WordPress, but Blogger is easy and they've made some improvements recently.

        You'll be surprised to see folks looking at your site if you tag it right. Imagine other guys like you considering this vehicle looking for a resource other than Ford or the dealer.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @KLVN
        BTW - Why are you going on about the lemon law? Your van has a light on. You'd need a lot more "problems" than that to claim a lemon. Before that, Ford would probably rebuild the whole thing under warranty anyways and give you a free 100K warranty. Happened to my parents diesel truck.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I heard that Matt just had a heart attack.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I heard it was heart FAIL
      • 5 Years Ago
      As a work van it does its job.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I could be wrong, but 2000 vehicles/month isn't exactly something to go screaming to the heavens about. I mean, that's only about 24,000 units/year. Sure, sales will probably pick up after the first month after word gets out, but I'm still not sure that this is exactly newsworthy.

      Having said that, I am a major Ford fan, and I am rooting for them above anyone else in this poor economy. Any vehicle they sell will do nothing but help their image and financial situation.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think this vehicle will pick up steam. My family owns a couple Stanley Steamer franchises. Imagine using one of these instead of a full-on Econoline. They could save thousands in fuel over their little fleet of 50 vans in a month. With that, my sister could spend much more on clothing and purses. Voila! Stimulus :=)
      • 5 Years Ago
      If they keep selling at the 2000/month pace, Ford will have surpassed 1st-year sales target in the U.S. for this vehicle.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Dear Ford,

      "Laundromat"
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ditto! I thought the exact same thing.
        I didn't know inanimate objects drove little vans.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why not the diesel here in the U.S.? I would love a consumer (as opposed to commercial) version of this, but not without a diesel.

      No diesel = no sale.

      Sorry, Ford. Try again.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I apologize for misreading you. I do see your point. If you want a vehicle like the TC, and the only one on offer isn't what you want you certainly shouldn't settle for what's offered. No one else even offers a vehicle of this class. But you may have to do without, as I suspect there aren't enough people with a similar view to yours to make it cost effective to provide exactly what you want. Even the commercial van is a limited market. I think Ford would be ecstatic to sell 50.000 of these a year...

        Could it be as simple as the Euro diesel not meeting US emissions requirements? Is the diesel in question even a Ford part? Some of the diesels for their small cars are sourced from Fiat and Renault. If they don't have a small, emissions-compliant diesel available I think it unlikely that they would develop one for a small volume vehicle, especially given US drivers' (as a whole) attitude towards them.

        The Scorpion seems rather overkill for this application. ;-)
        • 5 Years Ago
        I have no reason to "slam" Ford, and that was not my intent. There are different versions of the Transit Connect which Ford has shown at auto shows and on the Internet, one of which is a consumer version with back seats, windows, full upholstery, etc. This is the version I would want, because I'm not a caterer or plumber or commercial user.

        I also believe in torque, fuel economy, and "Earth-friendly" green cars. Why would I want a 25mpg gas-powered vehicle when I could buy a 35mpg diesel-powered version with better torque, driveability, and longevity? Ford already offers that, but stupidly they withhold it from the American market.

        Hence my comment, "No diesel = no sale."

        Why should I have to buy a vehicle I don't want, just because that's what's offered? I'll take my money elsewhere. A new Golf TDI would suit my needs too, so therefore Ford's just lost a sale. Simple as that. No diesel = no sale.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I suspect Ford got it exactly right for the market they are targeting. No need for them to try again. Rather than slamming Ford (the true intent of your post, no?) why not choose a vehicle that better suits your needs? After all, not every vehicle is designed *just for you*...however much you may wish it to be so. This was never intended to be a regular consumer vehicle.

      • 5 Years Ago
      "For more than a decade, Ford has been selling smart but small little panel vans (starting with the Escort Van) all over Europe." - Autoblog


      Er, Autoblog ... the Escort van first went on sale in mk1 guise in 1968.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Um, that would still be more than a decade. What's the problem here? ;-)
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ford could do even better if they offered the European diesel in the US - imagine advertising 30 mpg city and 40 highway. And they seem to have left too much to the aftermarket - that cargo area is big enough for a weekend camper with a couple bunks, and they're not effectively promoting all the other potential uses. Someone needs to develop a fuselage plug for this van - extend the back a foot or two and make it even more useful, just like the numerous stretched variants of the DC-9 and the Boeing 737. I'd be in line to buy one if they just offered the diesel and a passenger-friendly interior.
      • 5 Years Ago
      We just need a 4th driver up get this van for our expanding handivan business... or have one of our vans break down to the point of getting a new van
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