Today seems to be Ford day; this morning's e-mail included a news release on the early sales success of the 2010 Ford Transit Connect small delivery van, just while we're in the middle of writing up our four days of travel in a 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid.
We first drove the 2010 Transit Connect in late May, visiting three small businesses in the heart of Manhattan that could show off the van's flexibility and usefulness in the urban areas where it's expected to sell best.
Indeed, says Ford, the first shipment of Transit Connects has been selling from dealer lots in an average of eight days. The industry rule of thumb is that a manufacturer should maintain about 60 days' worth of any model; by that measure, early Transit Connects are literally flying off the lots.
Built in Turkey and shipped to the US with rear seats (most of which are promptly removed and destroyed) to avoid the notorious "chicken tax", the Transit Connect is powered by a 136-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, mated to a four-speed automatic transmission.
The 2010 Ford Transit Connect is rated by the EPA at 22 miles per gallon city / 25 mpg highway, far better than full-size vans. Its payload capacity of 1,600 pounds is the same as a half-ton pickup truck.
For easy maneuverability in urban areas, the turning circle is 39 feet curb to curb. The Transit Connect has 135 cubic feet of cargo space (twice the 63 cubic feet in the 2009 Chevrolet HHR Panel van, its closest competitor). The load bay is 6 feet long, 5 feet high, and 4 feet wide between the rear wheel arches.
Ford plans an electric version of the Transit Connect, to be introduced in 2010, that will be converted to electric drive in the US. The company is working with Smith Electric Vehicles, which has offered such a conversion in the UK and Europe for more than a year now.
At the preview, Ford mentioned that many potential Transit Connect buyers having been hanging onto their 1985-2005 Chevrolet Astro and GMC Safari vans, the very newest of them now five long years old.
No word, though, on whether those vans are being traded in on Transit Connects under the commercial-vehicle section of the "Cash for Clunkers" program.
We'll keep you posted here on GreenCarReports.com as we get further information on the 2010 Ford Transit Connect.
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