The familiar commercial vans and wagons that we see here in Pittsburgh are changing in a very revolutionary way, getting taller and more agile. Many of the designs coming to market are variants of models already proven in use in European markets. These new vans are lowering costs for commercial owners, which is good for small businesses and large fleet operations.
Ford’s new Transit lineup is the latest in a group that includes the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Ram ProMaster. It’s replacing the Ford E-Series van, which has been in use since 1961. However, the E-Series will still be available in cutaway form and for more heavy duty commercial applications.
Transit offers its owners a greater selection in terms of vehicle styles and configurations. It also offers more capability and strength while getting better fuel economy.
“The all-new Transit is a game changer,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of The Americas. “Transit raises the game for our customers in North America and around the world with even greater work capability, helping improve their productivity and bottom lines. These, literally, are the vehicles people trust and rely on for their livelihoods.”
Ford is the second-largest commercial vehicle manufacturer in the world and best-selling commercial vehicle brand in North America. The company is leveraging its One Ford product strategy to meet the needs of fleet customers on six continents and in 118 markets with Transit vehicles that are tougher, more fuel efficient and even more capable.
Transit will be offered in three body lengths, two wheelbases and three roof heights; and in van, wagon, chassis cab and cutaway body styles, which translates to over 58 available configurations. Ford also designed the new Transit to be easily upfitted for a wide variety commercial applications.
“The Transit is designed to meet almost every commercial need with its unparalleled flexibility,” said Minyang Jiang, brand manager for Transit, Transit Connect and E-Series. “In terms of capability, the Transit picks up where the smaller Transit Connect lets off. It also offers up to 487 cubic feet of cargo space, which is almost the same cargo volume as two conventional vans. That means our commercial customers can replace two vans with one Transit.”
In addition to its design flexibility, Transit will be offered with three different powerplant choices: a 3.7-liter V6, an all-new 3.2-liter Power Stroke diesel, and the 3.5-liter EcoBoost, which can also be found on the popular F-150.
Ford also offers Transit’s 3.7-liter V6 with a compressed natural gas/liquid propane gas prep kit to assist customers running their vehicles with this abundant, affordable, clean fuel alternative. The 3.7-liter V6 is also engineered for optimal performance with E85 flex-fuel capability.
The all-new 3.2-liter Power Stroke five-cylinder common-rail turbo diesel, based on Ford’s proven Duratorq global diesel engine architecture, features state-of-the-art fuel, turbo and emissions systems that meet stringent U.S. clean diesel standards, providing an ideal balance of fuel economy and job capability.
For its part, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost promises to be a trusted workhorse in the Transit lineup, whether carrying materials to a job site or towing a trailer with Transit’s available Class IV hitch. This EcoBoost provides a best-in-class gasoline engine torque rating of 400 lb.-ft.
Each engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission for efficient rear-wheel-drive operation.
Transit is built on a unibody frame as opposed to the full-boxed frame construction offered on most commercial vehicles. The unibody incorporates the use of high-strength boron steel, which not only reduces weight, but also increases capability. Transit has cargo capacity of up to 4,650 pounds and a towing capacity that can climb as high as 7,500 pounds.
The lightweight unibody construction also contributes to Transit’s better fuel economy than the outgoing E-Series.
“With the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, the Transit low and medium roof wagons get 14 miles per gallon in the city and 19 miles per gallon on the highway, according to EPA estimates,” said Jiang. “This is an improvement of about 46 percent compared to the 10 miles per gallon in the city and 13 miles per gallon on the highway estimated for the E-Series 6.8-liter V10 premium gas engine. That’s comparing our largest gas engine for Transit against our largest gas engine for E-Series.”
The unibody construction also makes Transit a lot easier to handle on the road while improving its ride for greater driver comfort through the workday. A power rack-and-pinion steering setup provides exceptionally communicative steering feel, serving as a confidence builder for even novice drivers.
With its greater flexibility and efficiency, Transit will no doubt change the face of the commercial vehicles we see on the road and in our driveways. It should also reduce the cost of vehicle and fleet operations, which is good for small businesses, the backbone of our local and national economies.