• Sep 22, 2009
2010 Ford Transit Connect - Click above for high-res image gallery

The law of unintended consequences is a funny one. Take the chicken tax. Back in the 1960s, West Germany imposed high tariffs on American grown chicken. President Johnson – a man you would not want to mess with – fought back by imposing high import tariffs on foreign made trucks and commercial vans. This is one of the reasons why there are no full-size German pickup trucks. It's also why German egg yolks are orange while ours are yellow (grass fed chicken vs. corn fed chicken), but that's another story. The only reason we have the Toyota Tundra and the Nissan Titan is because those companies decided to make them here in the U.S. Otherwise they'd be too expensive. This poses a real problem if you're Ford and you want to bring in your made-in-Turkey Transit Connect van.

How to circumvent the law? There's all sorts of creative ways. Up until just recently, Chrysler's been selling Sprinter vans here in the States by shipping them unassembled to a factory in South Carolina where the vans are reconstituted and shipped to dealers. Ford's taking a slightly different approach. They actually ship the Transit Connects here with the vans classified as wagons. Then, once they reach a processing facility in Baltimore, they are transformed into cargo vans, totally side-stepping the Chicken Tax. Smart, huh?

The process of transforming a passenger "wagon" into a cargo van works like this. The rear windows are removed and replaced by a sheet of metal that's quick cured in place. The rear seats and seat belts are then removed and a new floorboard is screwed into place. Voila – five minutes after they start as five-passenger wagons, Ford has a bunch of two-seater panel vans. The seats are then shredded and the material is used as land fill cover. No word on what happens to the glass. Long story short, take that chicken tax!



[Source: WSJ]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 60 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Political idiocy in all its glory. While it's a clever solution, guess what - that extra work that is required is priced into the vehicle. As always, the customer loses.

      Personally, I prefer both German cars AND chickens. Give me my BMW and orange yolk any day over a Chevy and those mutant corn-fed birds.

        jay4e
        • 1 Year Ago
        yeah but the point is it is a lot cheaper to do this than pay the tax. and us customers only have our selves to blame for this since we do little to try and clean up dumb government policies like these.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I love these things but I don't know why.
        Jim Pease
        • 1 Year Ago
        I wish they had a low roofed version that could be used as a mini-van vehicle. I've seen a bunch of these used as passenger vehicles but the high roof doesn't work for me like a low roofed version would.
        Derek
        • 5 Years Ago
        +1

        And it only took until the 4th page until I found somebody saying something about the van, rather than the politics (though I find the whole thing entertaining at a distance).

        All I know is that if I had a small business and needed to transport stuff, I'd definitely want one of these.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why are the seats not sent to the part department for aftermarket sales, or put back on the ship and sent back to the factory to be reinstalled for the next shipment?
      • 5 Years Ago
      And people wonder why folks like me want LIMITED government...

      All this bullcrap about EPA estimates, and hybrid drive, and game-playing that goes a very short distance...

      and due to tariffs, a GOVERNMENT problem, they are wasting time, labor, resources, wealth, and throwing away finished materials to FLOUT the law.

      Just after the government leveraged 3 Billion to pay people to grenade cars that were still worth something, and were still running.

      Government is not the solution, and is almost ALWAYS behind the problem, or at least preventing real people from solving the problem correctly.

      Every problem that they try to solve, they make worse, and create more problems with unintended consequences.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's easy for some of you to sit behind a keyboard and continue to preach that our govenment should just allow everything and anything to be imported to our country so as there is no "interference". I'd say that policy is just fine except for one silly little stipulation: NOT ALL COUNTRIES ARE GOING TO PLAY FAIRLY.

        Look at the lifestyle of the average Chinese worker, is it any wonder why they are able to produce the same products cheaper? Do we want to live like that in our country to ensure that we can compete at a global level? Should we give up all the rights that the U.S. worker has earned? I don't think so.

        Of course there are levels of stupidity and of course the government is going to mess it up and leave stupid rules on the books that hurt areas they aren't supposed to. They should definately clean that up. But to say we should have no means of equalizing trade when others won't do the same is idiotic at best. We're already slowly giving away our middle class.

        As for the Transit, Ford will be building it here assuming the demand stays as it has. They did the smart thing though to get it here ASAP and start selling it as they convert plants over to C-segment capabilities on this continent.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "The seats are then shredded and the material is used as land fill cover."

      They ought to tax them for that.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Landfill COVER, not landfill.

        Much like using shredded tires as artificial mulch.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wow, so they are flooding landfills just to have a shot at selling a car, that will end up in a land fill one day?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow, what a gigantic waste of resources and energy.

      Wouldn't that glued-in panel be more likely to leak than if they had a normal, full metal panel covering the car? Or is this how they normally make cargo vans - by gluing in metal to the window holes?
        • 5 Years Ago
        agreed, it is stupid all around.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Firstly, the US policy is obviously circumventable. That's the point the article. There is some added cost and silliness. But its minor.

        But it doesn't even come close to say France or Germany's flatout 23% cap on Japanese imports.

        What bothers me is that people who bitch about US instances of protectism don't say a word or lift a finger to open markets closed to US goods.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Chicken tax deserves an...egging.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yet another example of American protectionism and how the WTO and all the various Free Trade agreements amount to nothing because the US still likes to play bully.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This isn't protectionism, this is merely a tariff, something our founding fathers were HUGE believers in. In fact their original intent was to fund the running of the federal gov't through tarrifs, not a personal income tax.

        "Protectionism" is merely the negative label put on those who opposed NAFTA and other free trade, globalization efforts by those who would profit from it - Big Corporations and their political whores - and those who aren't smart enough to see the destructive affect it's had on our economy and our middle class.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hooray protectionism!
        • 5 Years Ago
        So... does Germany still have a tarrif on chickens? Can you buy a Purdue Oven Stuffer roaster over there, and for a reasonable price?

        If not, why should we change our tarrif? Shouldn't it be a two-way street? Just sayin' Free Trade needs to be free on both sides, but that would really be Fair Trade now, wouldn't it?
        • 5 Years Ago
        They're usually glued in, with the exception of chrysler, where they're held in by clips.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Actually the Transit is going to be built in the US. I believe the news was even posted on Autoblog a few months ago. Importation is simply a stop gap until the lines are ready. With Transit sales doing better than expected, Ford isn't going to allow the Turkish plant to limit its sales ability (which is happening from what I here) - the factory there isn't able to supply the volume now expected.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Maybe Mahindra should try this loophole too.
      HotRodzNKustoms
      • 5 Years Ago
      Aren't they available as 5 seaters with glass windows?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have already seen a ton of these. And one last week at a CHEVY dealer.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, I already saw them in three dealerships in Colorado Springs. Local Carmax got one or two truckloads of these - so at least 14-16 in just one dealership.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Rich: Open a encyclopedia of your choice. If you find one where Norway is not included in Europe while Turkey is, I'll personally come over to your house and deliver you a cake. 97% of Turkey is in Asia. Norway is >99% in Europe, the bits and pieces that are not are in the arctic and antarctic ocean.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Crazy idea, just gonna throw it out here: WHY NOT MAKE THEM HERE!
        • 5 Years Ago
        There's a light truck (Ranger) plant in Minnesota that's already been downsized and is scheduled for closure. Seems like a good place to produce these things.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Andrew: Norway is in Scandinavia, not Europe.

        You're welcome.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's a matter of risk vs rewards too. Without having to invest in a production line, which is a lot of money and a big risk. So importing it is not as big of a risk, but the potential reward is there. If it pans out, and the volume of sales can justify it, I don't see why Ford couldn't get a production line going in the states. Besides, this is the fastest way to get the van on US soil instead of waiting months getting a production line ready.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Because two production lines is more expensive than one, and US labor costs a lot more than Turkish labor + shipping.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You have to remember that Turkey is to Europe what Mexico is to the US.

        Oh, and Turkey is NOT European despite their foolish dreams and childish tantrums.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ford's seat foam is a spy based biodegradable foam. So the land fill part is no where near as bad as what could be inferred by the article.
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