One year after announcing it would bring the compact Transit Connect van to the U.S. market, Ford is now ready to put it on sale. The little van hasn't changed much since we first saw it, although the styling of the nose has been tweaked a bit, primarily around the grille area. The lower front fascia now has the trapezoidal opening characteristic of Ford's Kinetic design. The Transit is intended to be a more maneuverable and efficient alternative to the big old E-series full-size vans targeted primarily at commercial customers, although anyone will be able to get one.
American buyers of the Transit Connect will only have one conventional powertrain option, a 2.0L four cylinder Duratec gas engine paired up with a four-speed automatic transmission. Ford has also confirmed that the Transit Connect will be the basis of its new electric van to be offered starting in 2010. The battery electric version is being developed in conjunction with Smith Electric Vehicles from the UK. Follow the jump to learn more about Ford's latest European transplant.
At a preview before the Chicago Auto Show, VP of Global Product Development Derrick Kuzak declined to get too specific about the electric van they're developing, but we can make some reasonable guesses based on information from Smith Electric Vehicles. Smith has been developing electric drive conversions of several different delivery van and truck platforms for several years. The Smith vehicles are growing in popularity in Europe, especially in cities like London that have congestion zones and offer an exemption for zero emissions vehicles. Smith is already offering electric versions of both the full-size Transit and the smaller Connect, the latter badged as the Ampere.
The Ampere uses a 50 kW electric motor driving the front wheels with a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that is claimed to give a 100-mile range on a charge. The electric Connect has a top speed of 70 mph, making it ideal for urban delivery and service use. The electric TC will be offered in the U.S. primarily to commercial fleet customers beginning in the second half of 2010. Kuzak wouldn't talk about volumes or pricing for the electric version just yet.
The gas powered version is another story. With expected EPA ratings of 20 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, the TC tops the E-series by more than 40 percent. While the much larger E-series will be required for some applications, there are plenty of uses where the TC is a better option. Since it's front-wheel-drive, the load floor is considerably lower making it easier to get stuff in and out. In spite of its compact dimensions, the TC has 135 cu ft of interior volume behind the front seats.
There is four feet of flat floor between the wheel wells in the back and six feet from the rear doors to the back of the seats. Through the read door opening of the TC can accommodate objects up to 52 inches tall, another seven inches are available inside below the roof. Speaking of those doors, in standard form the split rear doors open 180 degrees, although 255 degree opening doors are optional. There is also a sliding door on each side of the van. Although the TC is targeted at commercial users, it is also available with a three-seat second row bench and windows all around making it a viable small people mover too.
Without the extra seating, the TC has a 1,600-lb payload capacity and Ford emphasizes that it's been tested to the same durability standards as the full-size E-series, F-150 and Super-Duty trucks. The Transit Connect will also be available with Ford's Work Solutions package, including the in-dash computer, Tool Link RFID tool tracking system and internet access. For around town use, the 39-ft turning circle is just one foot more than a Honda Accord. When it goes on sale this summer, the Ford Transit Connect will have a starting price of about $21,475 including delivery.
FORD LAUNCHES ALL-NEW TRANSIT CONNECT, ADDING TO MARKET-LEADING COMMERCIAL VEHICLE FLEET
Ford fills an unmet U.S. commercial business need with new Transit Connect, an industry-exclusive vehicle specifically developed to be a smart new choice for small business owners
Low operating and ownership costs, a fuel-efficient 2.0-liter engine, 135 cubic feet of cargo space, a 1,600 pound payload capacity, available Ford Work Solutions technology and various cargo management systems make Transit Connect a smart solution
Transit Connect, a strong global Ford product, goes on sale in the U.S. this summer, starting at $21,475, including destination
DEARBORN, Mich., Feb. 9, 2009 – Ford is tapping its global portfolio of products to meet the unique needs of American small business owners with the 2010 Transit Connect, a spacious new fuel-efficient alternative to larger commercial vehicles that's ideal for navigating U.S. cities.
"Transit Connect is a tangible success of our 'One Ford' strategy to harness the best of our global products and offer new choices and solutions to customers in other parts of the world," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas. "With 40 percent market share, Ford is the reigning Commercial Truck leader in the United States, and we're looking for Transit Connect to further grow our leadership and allow even more customers to experience the 'Built Ford Tough' difference."
The 2010 Ford Transit Connect will be unveiled at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show. It arrives with a global reputation for durability and toughness dating back to its 2003 launch, when an expert jury of European commercial vehicle journalists named it International Van of the Year.
Ford Transit Connect is built on a dedicated front-wheel drive commercial vehicle platform to meet and exceed the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs. To prepare the Transit Connect for the unique needs of small businesses in the United States, the powertrain was upgraded to include a proven Duratec 2.0-liter dual-overhead cam (DOHC) four-cylinder engine and a four-speed automatic overdrive transaxle. Several design details, including the grille and interior touches, have been updated to lend the vehicle a fresh, new look for its American debut.
"This workhorse is like nothing available today in the American market," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president of Global Product Development. "We're offering small business owners a real choice to meet their needs, instead of asking them to pull seats out of minivans or compromise on one or more of their needs. Transit Connect is good news for small business owners nationwide."
Transit Connect: It's Global
More than 600,000 Ford Transit Connects have been sold since 2003, to customers in 58 countries and on four continents. To fulfill the unmet needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs in the United States, Ford's Global Product Development team was able to quickly adapt the Transit Connect for the American market, validate its durability and tailor the cargo space for the unique yet diverse needs of small business proprietors.
Transit Connect: It's Capable
"Transit Connect was developed to bring small business owners a new vehicle choice, offering significantly improved fuel economy, generous and accessible cargo space with the agility and maneuverability to deliver the goods in tight quarters," said Rob Stevens, chief engineer.
Transit Connect's capability begins with capacity.
With 135 cubic feet of Transit Connect cargo volume, no other vehicle in the American market can deliver this combination of capacity and fuel economy.
Split rear cargo doors open at a standard 180 degrees, or an optionally available 255 degrees. When open, these doors provide access to 52.1 inches of available load height.
Lift-over height is less than two feet, when the Transit Connect is unloaded
Once inside, the cargo area opens up to 59.1 inches of floor to ceiling load height
The load width is 47.8 inches, between the wheel arches
Load length is a generous 72.6 inches or more than six feet of cargo floor space. Dual sliding rear side doors provide wide access to the generous cargo space as well
Transit Connect has more than double the cargo-carrying space of the Chevrolet HHR Panel, making it suitable for a broader range of commercial use applications.
The Transit Connect offers commercial users a cargo payload of 1,600 pounds. This capacity means that the Transit Connect can carry a larger payload than the full size Dodge Ram 1500 standard-cab short-box pickup truck.
"Transit Connect can swallow far more cargo than people might think," added Stevens.
The Transit Connect's capability story goes beyond capacity. Its size and nimble driving dynamics provide agility for urban routes. Power-assisted rack and pinion steering allows a 39-foot curb-to-curb turning circle assures that Transit Connect is maneuverable when delivering the goods for entrepreneurs in tight quarters.
The Transit Connect is expected to deliver at least 20 city and 24 highway mpg, pending EPA fuel economy certification.
Transit Connect: It's Adaptable
Ford Transit Connect was conceived, developed and engineered to meet the needs of small business proprietors all over the world.
Once it arrives in the United States from the plant in Kocaeli, Turkey, Transit Connect can be outfitted for specific needs across a diverse range of users.
Bulkheads, racks, bins and other upfits can be mixed, matched and configured to suit many specific commercial applications and needs. Transit Connect is offered with a wide range of upfitted cargo management options, similar to the enduring, market-leading Ford E-Series commercial vehicles.
Small business owners have tremendous choice, with this unrivaled commercial application.
Transit Connect is available as a cargo van with no windows in the sliding side doors combined with rear cargo door privacy glass
A panel van version is offered with no side or rear cargo area windows
Transit Connect also can be configured with side and rear door privacy glass for maximum driver visibility
Plus, a wagon version of Transit Connect is available with a folding second-row bench seat, in either two- or three-passenger configurations. The wagon is ideally suited to the specialized needs of a small business owner that uses Transit Connect for carrying cargo for business and passengers or family during off-hours
Ford Transit Connect can be further adapted to individual business needs with the inclusion of Ford Work Solutions. The "solutions" behind this system allow customers to:
Run a business from inside the Transit Connect – right from the job site. An in-dash computer provides Internet access, productivity software and optional printing capabilities
Track tools. Tool Link™ gives the ability to organize, scan and track tools, inventory and other cargo items
Track the fleet. Crew Chief™ is a tailored telematics service to monitor and manage small or large fleets
The Ford Work Solutions in-dash computer allows small business owners to run their enterprises from inside the Transit Connect. Applications include downloading customer or product information, remotely accessing an office work station computer, sending and receiving text messages, navigating job or delivery locations with the Garmin navigation function and connecting with customers via hands-free phone functionality.
With a bright touch screen, for easy use and visibility, the in-dash computer runs the Windows CE 6.0 operating system. Word processing, spreadsheet, calculator and calendar applications are all included. With applicable subscriptions, the system can provide users with Internet access, remote document access and Garmin Online services such as traffic, weather and fuel prices.
The in-dash computer enables the availability of Tool Link, by DeWalt™. Using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags that adhere to the tools or objects themselves, Tool Link allows the Transit Connect Cargo to be scanned for the appropriate tools and inventory items, prior to leaving for the jobsite or route.
Tool Link helps manage valuable tools and ensures that specific items are on-board and available for use. Tool Link helps to keep all RFID-tagged objects on board, so at the end of the day, these items are secure and available for work on the next job.
Crew Chief™ is a tool for fleet managers to track vehicles, staff and Transit Connect diagnostics.
This system, not available in conjunction with the in-dash computer, provides a fleet manager with constant access to vehicle location information, the ability to track vehicle performance, automatic notification of vehicle maintenance needs and the ability to let drivers drive ─ not fill out written vehicle logs.
Crew Chief allows online access to vehicle location, speed, idle time, fuel usage and more than 30 diagnostic measures. Functions and reporting can be tailored to meet the specific needs of fleets large or small. Crew Chief has "geo-fencing" capability, allowing a fleet manager to set geographic or time of use boundaries.
Transit Connect is adaptable to multiple drivers, too. It features a six-way manually adjustable reclining driver's seat with an armrest, and a four-way adjustable reclining passenger's seat. The steering wheel tilts and telescopes to fit drivers of diverse sizes.
Transit Connect: It's Durable
Ford Transit Connect has a global track record of durability. It's a purpose-built commercial vehicle, built on a dedicated commercial vehicle platform in an exclusively commercial vehicle production facility. Transit Connect is designed, engineered and manufactured by Ford of Europe to beat tough, light commercial vehicle durability standards.
The Transit Connect is powered by a well-proven Duratec 2.0-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine, featuring four valves per cylinder and an aluminum block and head. Sequential multiport electronic fuel injection provides precise fuel metering for smooth and economical performance. This engine, delivering an estimated 136 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 128 ft.-lbs. of torque at 4,750 rpm, has proven American market durability.
This engine is mated to a four-speed automatic transaxle with overdrive for additional fuel economy. A final-drive ratio of 4.20 to 1 is designed to give Transit Connect pulling power for the long haul. Fifteen inch steel wheels with P205/65R-15 black sidewall tires put the Transit Connect in contact with the road.
The Transit Connect was developed at the outset to be durable, with a boron steel front crossmember, a high-strength steel reinforced body shell, twin- side cross members and side-impact protection. Several areas of the body structure are double-skinned for additional strength, increasing resistance to the minor scrapes inherent to urban delivery situations. Swage lines along the lower side door panels add rigidity and visual character.
As a nimble, purpose-built commercial vehicle, Transit Connect can be a smart choice for the small business proprietor currently over-taxing the capabilities of an aging minivan with the passenger seats removed.
Transit Connect: It's Professional
While providing an ideal palette for identification and logo of a business on its body side, Transit Connect tells the world that its owner or operator has made a smart, savvy and efficient choice.
Transit Connect keeps passengers and cargo safe and secure, too. Front and side air bags help keep driver and first-row passenger safe. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) are standard, as well. A locking exterior hood release helps keep things secure up front. Lock-in-Latch shielded door locks help Transit Connect resist break-in.
Transit Connect helps small business professionals keep their cool with standard air-conditioning and an AM/FM Stereo receiver with two speakers. A similar audio unit is offered, adding a single disc CD player and an audio input jack.
A standard center console includes two large cupholders and twin storage bins for receipts, invoices and toll coins. The Transit Connect roofline allows an overhead storage shelf, holding the small items an entrepreneur needs to keep top-of-mind.
Transit Connect: It's Accessible
With models starting at $21,475, including destination, Transit Connect is accessible to a wide range of American small business owners.
Plus, low operating costs, excellent fuel economy and 7,500 mile service intervals make economic sense, for businesses on tight budgets. A comfortable ride, an automatic transaxle and small exterior dimensions make Transit Connect accessible to lots of drivers that might be intimidated by the prospect of a full-size commercial vehicle.
"Transit Connect will be a useful small business tool," said Chief Engineer Stevens. "It drives like a car, works like a van and is engineered to be as tough as a truck."