During an event held today at the company's Product Review Center in Dearborn, Michigan, Ford's marketing manager of commercial vehicles, Tim Stoehr, explained the strategy behind the new Transit Connect Wagon. Much like how we've seen consumers downsizing to smaller vehicles over the past few years, Ford firmly believes that buyers in the minivan segment are also looking to downsize. Thus, the Transit Connect Wagon is more of a true minivan than just about anything else on the market, and Ford believes the two-wheelbase strategy (with five- and seven-passenger configurations) will make its new van appealing to a wide range of consumers. That said, Stoehr expects the take rate on the two models to be about 80/20 – the majority going with the seven-passenger, long-wheelbase configuration.
Stoehr did not confirm pricing for either model, but said that the 2014 Transit Connect Wagon will be the least-expensive seven-passenger vehicle in the United States, coming in "thousands less than the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey." The Mazda5, which starts at $20,420 including delivery fees, only seats six.
Looking back to the introduction of Ford's other new people-mover, the C-Max, the automaker was originally scheduled to launch a seven-passenger version, complete with sliding doors and traditional gas powertrains. When asked about why Ford decided to shift this sort of vehicle over to the Transit Connect line, Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's vice president of global engineering for global product development, told Autoblog that the decision was based on the fact that Ford wanted to have one nameplate in its US product portfolio solely dedicated to electrified vehicles. That, and the seven-passenger C-Max (better known as the Grand C-Max) didn't offer nearly as much interior volume as the Transit Connect. To that end, Thai-Tang confirmed that a hybrid version of the Transit Connect is not on the table.
Ford also confirmed that, just like the current-generation Transit Connect, the new model will not be affected by the so-called "chicken tax" that applies to cargo vans built outside of the US. The 2014 Transit Connect will be built in Valencia, Spain.
When Ford launches the 2014 Transit Connect Wagon near the end of 2013, it will be available in the buyer's choice of either a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder or a 1.6-liter EcoBoost four, both coming standard with six-speed automatic transmissions. The 2014 Transit Connect Wagon will officially bow at the Los Angeles Auto Show later this month.