New Ford Transit Coming In 2013: Even Big Vans Get Greener

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Ford Transit Van, high-roof European model

Ford Transit Van, high-roof European model

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The impact of new gas-mileage rules on passenger cars gets all the attention, but proposed increases apply to commercial vehicles too.

That means that automakers will be redesigning their commercial vans for better fuel efficiency too.

In 2013, Ford will start building its full-size Transit van in Kansas City, replacing the current Ford E-Series, the best-selling full-sized van for 32 years now--which is probably still better known by the Econoline model name that Ford hasn't used since 2001.

Today's E-Series dates all the way back to 1992, with its last major update (which lengthened the front end) in the 2008 model year. Even Ford calls it "venerable" in its press materials, an admission that it now has the oldest doors in the business.

The new Transit van will also replace the current European van with the Transit name, on sale since 2006 and dating back to the 2000 model year.

Under Ford's globalization plan, a common global platform design will be adapted for all markets--the largest being Europe, North America, and China--offering cargo, passenger, and chassis-cab variations.

Ford has released few details of the new vehicle thus far, but it says the Transit van sold here will get gas mileage ratings at least 25 percent higher than today's E-Series vans--lowering both CO2 emissions and customer running costs as a byproduct.


2007 Ford E-Series

2007 Ford E-Series

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The current European Transit is offered in a variety of models, with two different turbodiesel engines, a choice of wheelbases and roof heights, and even front-wheel, rear-wheel, or all-wheel drive.

Like the smaller and unrelated Transit Connect van, it's built in Turkey (as well as other locations) for sale globally. More than 6 million have been sold.

U.S. models will likely offer at least one EcoBoost direct-injected and turbocharged gasoline engine. Whether Ford offers a clean diesel model remains up in the air, though fleet owners are likely to push heavily for at least one such offering.

The Transit van coming in 2013 won't replace the entire E-Series line; heavier-duty chassis-cab versions of the old E-Series will remain in production for most of the current decade.

The light-duty models will transition to the Transit by 2014, however, which will also offer far more modern technology, and better handling. Part of the fuel economy improvement will come from weight reduction; Ford says the new van will be 300 pounds lighter than today's comparable E-Series models.

Ford is building new test roads on its proving grounds north of Detroit, modeled after urban torture tests used in its Belgium development facility, to ensure the unibody Transit van is as durable as the E-Series, which has a separate body and chassis.

Among the tests it must pass: Climbing steep urban street curbs thousands of times.


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Comments (5)
  1. Wow, Voelcker mentioned CO2 before mentioning the cost benefits. Maybe he does care about the environment after all.

  2. Face it. The sooner we get off the addiction to foreign oil, the sooner we can dump the Middle East and its conflicts (e.g., Israel vs. the Arabs). We've become the most hated nation in the world because of corporations' lust for cheap oil and any cost.

  3. Interesting vehicle. I currently drive a 2002 long/tall Sprinter cargo Van 50,000 miles a year, and while the fuel mileage is certainly great (20+ MPG with diesel fuel and a 4,000# load) the ability to get it serviced around the country is quite poor. Now that Dodge no longer imports the Sprinter, it can only be serviced at a Freightliner truck stop or a Mercedes car dealer, neither of which seem to be capable of keeping this German van running. If Ford can supply the appropriate training to their service shops around the country, and get the repair parts inventory in place, I think a lot of current Sprinter owners would abandon ship for an American built product. I'll be watching this quite closely.

  4. did i read the small transit connect is being discontinued?

  5. @James: As we wrote yesterday, the smaller Transit Connect will be replaced with an all-new vehicle for the 2014 model year. Here's the story:

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