* 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, 135.3 cubic feet of cargo space, a payload capacity up to 1,600 pounds, available Ford Work Solutionsâ„¢ technologies and various cargo management systems make Transit Connect a smart solution
* Transit Connect goes on sale in the U.S. this summer, starting at $21,475, including destination, rated at 22 city, 25 highway EPA miles per gallon
* Later in 2010, Transit Connect will be available with battery electric-power and a useful range close to 100 miles
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.”
Transit Connect 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 Transit Connect for United States duty, the powertrain was upgraded to include a proven Duratec 2.0-liter dual-overhead cam (DOHC) I-4 engine ““ giving 22 city, 25 highway miles per gallon ““ 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 for 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.”
As part of Ford’s aggressive new electric vehicle plan to bring pure battery-powered vehicles, hybrids and plug-in hybrids to market, a battery electric-powered Transit Connect will be offered later in 2010. The Transit Connect battery electric vehicle will be the initial offering in Ford’s recently announced electrification initiatives.
Ford is working with Smith Electric Vehicles, the European market’s leading battery electric upfitter of commercial vehicles, a part of the U.K.-based Tanfield Group of companies. Since 1920, Smith has converted tens of thousands of commercial vehicles to battery electric-power.
Many commercial users travel predictable, short-range routes, with lots of stop and go in urban and suburban environments. A range of up to 100 miles makes the battery electric-powered Transit Connect a useful hauler, with significantly reduced operation and maintenance costs. For companies aiming for sustainable mobility solutions, it can help them deliver the goods in an environmentally friendly way.
Transit Connect: It’s Global
More than 600,000 Ford Transit Connects have been sold since 2003, to customers in 55 countries on three 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 nameplate engineer.
Transit Connect capability begins with capacity. With 135.3 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 optional 255 degrees
* Lift-over height is less than two feet, when the Transit Connect is unloaded
* The cargo area opens up to a maximum of 59.1 inches of floor to ceiling height
* The load width is 48.1 inches, between the wheel arches
* Load length is a generous 72.6 inches or more than six feet of cargo floor space
and dual sliding rear side doors provide wide access to the generous cargo space
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.
It also offers commercial users a cargo payload of up to 1,600 pounds ““ 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, making it maneuverable when delivering the goods in tight quarters.
The Transit Connect features a 15.4 gallon fuel tank, providing the useful capability of a highway range of more than 350 miles.
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 U.S. from Ford of Europe’s production facility in Kocaeli, Turkey, it can be outfitted for specific needs across a diverse range of users.
Transit Connect is offered with a wide range of upfitted cargo management options, similar to the enduring, market-leading Ford E-Series commercial vehicles. Bulkheads, racks, bins and other upfits can be mixed, matched and configured to suit many specific commercial applications and needs.
Customers have numerous configuration choices, with multiple commercial applications:
* 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 can be configured with side and rear door privacy glass for maximum driver visibility
* A wagon version also is available with a folding second-row bench seat, in either two-or three-passenger configurations
Ford Transit Connect can be further adapted to individual business needs with the inclusion of Ford Work Solutionsâ„¢. 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 Linkâ„¢ gives the ability to organize, scan and track tools, inventory and other cargo items
* Track the fleet. Crew Chiefâ„¢ 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 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 DeWALTâ„¢. Using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags that adhere to individual tools or objects, Tool Link allows the Transit Connect cargo area 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 Chiefâ„¢ 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 â”€ 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. It features a six-way manually adjustable reclining driver’s seat with an armrest, and a four-way adjustable reclining passenger’s seat. In addition, 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 Duratec 2.0-liter DOHC I-4 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 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 high-strength 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 additional rigidity and visual character.
As a nimble, purpose-built commercial vehicle, Transit Connect can be a smart choice for the small-business owners 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 flanks, 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. Roll Stability Control® (RSC) is standard on wagon versions and optional in van configurations. 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 it 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.”
What are your thoughts on the Transit Connect? As a member of the workforce that puts in so much time commuting and dealing with the troubles of your car, traffic, etc., does this seem like the right idea? Would you welcome a company transit in favor of the morning and afternoon grind? How about if you own a small-business? Do you think this will help ensure your employees can get to work reliably?