As businesses continue to look for more fuel-efficient and practical means of transportation, global sales of commercial vehicles are expected to grow by 4.8 million units in the next five years. Ford is hoping to take advantage of that lucrative market following the recent introduction of its redesigned 2014 Ford Transit Connect and its all-new full-size 2014 Transit, both of which are slated to go on sale in the United States later in 2013.
Receiving the sleek front end of the Ford Escape crossover and a new optional 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine, the 2014 Transit Connect compact cargo van ramps up both style and cost savings compared to the previous generation. While the EcoBoost is expected to help the vehicle return more than 30 mpg on the highway, the standard 2.5-liter powerplant can also be outfitted with a compressed natural gas and liquid propane gas (CNG/LPG) prep package, catering to those business owners who want to bypass volatile gas prices entirely.
“The next-generation Transit Connect will use the latest drivetrain technology to improve upon the already impressive fuel economy of the current model, and it will do so while looking and feeling more like a stylish crossover than a van,” said Alan Melkonian, owner and general manager of Stoneham Ford, a Greater Boston Ford dealer. “At the same time, Ford is offering several different configurations to meet the unique needs of small businesses and fleet owners, which means greater cost savings through increased productivity.”
Available in two wheelbase lengths, as well as with or without the second row of seats, the 2014 Transit Connect features surprising capability despite its nimble ride, including a 1,600-pound maximum payload, more than 130 cubic feet of cargo space and a newly available 2,000-pound towing capacity. Meanwhile, useful technology options like a rearview camera, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with navigation and the SYNC with MyFord Touch infotainment system help drivers’ daily tasks go more smoothly.
Even in its current form, the Ford Transit Connect remains a popular choice for businesses, with sales of the small van rising 12 percent through November year-over-year in the United States. Another in-demand Ford commercial vehicle, the E-Series, has seen its sales increase 6 percent during that same time period. After 33 years as America’s best-selling commercial van, the E-Series will be replaced by the Ford Transit next fall.
Recognizing that it would be no easy task to follow up a class leader, Ford has made its 2014 Transit as much as 25 percent more fuel efficient than its predecessor. Buyers will have a variety of choices for saving on gas costs, including an optional 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and an all-new 3.2-liter Power Stroke Diesel unit, as well as a gas-powered standard 3.7-liter V6 that can also be made compatible with a CNG/LPG package. Like the Transit Connect, the Transit is designed for versatility, featuring a choice of two wheelbases, three roof heights, three body lengths, and cutaway, van, chassis cab and wagon configurations.
“It takes a lot to replace a popular, instantly recognizable vehicle like the E-Series, but when you look at the specs of the Transit, it becomes clear that the van segment is about to take a huge leap forward,” added Melkonian. “The powerful-yet-efficient EcoBoost and diesel options will provide all of the E-Series’ capability, but with an improved ride that is lighter in the turns, as well as lighter on the wallet.”