Ford to launch new automatic van gearbox and Sync infotainment

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Ford is debuting its new automatic gearbox and Sync infotainment system in the Transit range.

The new six-speed automatic transmission variant launches on the Transit and Transit Custom, as well as the introduction of an enhanced all-wheel drive (AWD) system.

Transit front-wheel drive and Transit Custom customers who require improved comfort and convenience in urban driving will be able to choose a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission in place of the standard manual gearbox, for delivery in early 2017.

The new transmission can be specified in combination with the 130hp and 170hp versions of the Ford EcoBlue engine, and Auto-Start-Stop is standard on all variants.

The transmission has been specially engineered for the Transit applications, including a new torque converter and external casing to optimise refinement, and is based on a highly durable design that has proven itself with powerful front-wheel drive vehicles in North America, with a torque capacity of more than 415Nm.

A unique calibration ensures that the transmission is perfectly matched to the torque delivery of the Ford EcoBlue diesel engine, providing responsive performance together with excellent fuel economy, and CO2 emissions from 174g/km on Transit Custom. The transmission can detect when the vehicle is on a road with a steep gradient, or carrying a heavy load, and adjusts the shifting strategy for optimal efficiency.

The electronically-controlled transmission delivers smooth and quick gear changes – with typical shift times of less than 0.5 seconds – and the SelectShift facility provides the option of manual shifting for enhanced control using a switch mounted on the side of the gear lever. The Auto-Start-Stop feature has been carefully tuned to suit the needs of commercial vehicle customers, with an on-demand electric pump to maintain transmission pressure so that the driver can pull away quickly as soon as the engine has re-started.

Ford’s intelligent AWD system for the Transit model has been re-engineered to deliver improved capabilities in combination with the all-new Ford EcoBlue diesel engine.

The new fourth generation Transit AWD system features an enhanced driveline design that combines the front differential and AWD coupling into a single, compact unit. This revised design reduces weight by 10kg, and allows the driveline to be packaged more efficiently around the layout of the EcoBlue engine.

Ford engineers have also further optimised the calibration of the Electronic Stability Control and AWD control systems to provide improved traction and stability in all driving conditions.

In combination with the increased low-end torque of the EcoBlue engine, the latest generation system enables drivers to achieve smoother, more confident progress on challenging surfaces, enhancing the already class-leading traction and driving dynamics offered by the system.

The Transit AWD system automatically distributes available engine torque to front and rear wheels using a specially developed electronically-controlled AWD coupling, and can vary the front:rear torque distribution between 0:100 and 50:50. Two modes are provided, with the standard AWD Auto mode suitable for most driving situations, and an AWD Lock mode that enhances traction in more extreme driving situations such as deep sand or deep snow.

Transit AWD models can be specified with the 130PS and 170PS Ford EcoBlue engines, which deliver improved fuel efficiency with CO2 emissions from 224g/km and average fuel consumption from 32.8mpg – an 11 per cent improvement compared with the outgoing model.

The AWD driveline option is available on a broad range of Transit van and chassis cab bodystyles, and will appeal to customers who frequently face slippery winter road surfaces and light duty off-road situations, such as service vehicles at ski resorts, utility companies in rural areas and maintenance engineers operating in all weather conditions. The new Transit AWD models are available to order at the end of the year for delivery in 2017.

Ford’s latest Transit, Transit Connect and Ranger models can now be specified with the new SYNC 3 communications system, which allows drivers to control their connected smartphones, audio, navigation, and climate functions (where fitted) with more conversational voice commands.

Simply by pushing a button and saying “I need fuel”, “I need a coffee”, or “find an address”, drivers can locate nearby fuel stations, cafés, or the location of their next job. The system then guides the driver to the selected destination via the navigation.

SYNC 3 has a redesigned touchscreen that features larger, easier to operate buttons, and can be used just like a smartphone with pinch-to-zoom and swipe gestures. With a more powerful processor, the system also delivers faster and more responsive performance.

Designed to complement modern smartphones, SYNC 3 provides a powerful set of features for customers who use their vehicles as mobile offices, including phone calls using simple voice commands, audible text messages, and full compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto™ functions.

Using the integrated AppLink feature, customers can voice or touch control a wide range of popular apps from a connected Android or iOS smartphone, enabling them to access the latest weather forecast, music services or local parking information. AppLink also provides the opportunity for developers to create tailored apps driven by vehicle data, such as logistics or fleet optimisation tools, which could provide valuable benefits for larger business customers.

Ford’s Transit Custom Kombi M1 and Tourneo Custom models are available to order from November with a unique-to-segment rear air suspension system, for customer delivery in early 2017.

The system was developed specially for the passenger carrying variants of the Transit Custom vehicles, and meets Ford’s full commercial vehicle durability standards. The suspension design features an air spring mounted on a trailing arm for each side of the vehicle, with an electronically-controlled air compressor to deliver the required spring rate for the two springs.

Height sensors on the trailing arms detect when the vehicle load changes, such as when passengers enter or leave the vehicle, and the air spring rates are automatically adjusted to suit the new load condition and maintain a level ride height. The air springs, including the profiling of their internal core, are custom designed for the vehicle, with extensive tuning by Ford dynamics specialists to achieve the desired ride characteristics.

The air suspension system is ideal for applications like shuttle and executive travel businesses where loading in the rear of the vehicle can vary by as much as 1 tonne depending on the quantity of passengers and luggage. The system enables the vehicle to deliver a supple, controlled and level ride across a wide range of load conditions, providing improved passenger comfort and vehicle dynamics.

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