It’s been the best selling van in the UK since its launch in 1965, but the next generation version of the Transit is arguably the most important in its 47-year history.
Officially unveiled at the CV Show in Birmingham this week – although a passenger van Tourneo ‘concept’ was shown at the Geneva Show in March – the van shown here will be known as the Transit Custom.
The reason? The van sector is increasingly segmenting into one-tonne and two-tonne vehicles, according to the company, and Ford wants to echo this trend by creating clearer differentiation between its Transit models.
Custom will, therefore, denote the one-tonners with a range including van, kombi and double-cab-in-van models – all due to go on sale by the end of the year.
Fleet Van obtained pictures of the new model, which reveal a more stylish and streamlined look than the boxy current model.
We’ll be publishing a full report on the new Transit in the next issue.
So what do we know? What’s immediately clear is that Ford wants to transfer the ‘kinetic design’ concept of its cars to its vans.
This means creating a look that, says Ford, generates “a strong sense of movement, even when the vehicle is stationary”.
The Custom is narrower but longer than the current version which means no compromise on capacity – indeed Ford promises “class-leading load-carrying”.
The short wheelbase version will be 4.97 metres long, while the long wheelbase model will measure 5.34 metres. Maximum load volume is six cubic metres with full bulkhead fitted, while payload options range from 600kg to 1,400kg.
Barry Gale, Ford of Europe commercial vehicles chief engineer, says: “This may be a more stylish Transit, but it’s a more functional Transit too. The additional features we have built into the load space make everyday functions more convenient, so it’s easier for customers to do their job.”
Ford is claiming the following innovations with the Custom:
- Optimised bulkhead and loadspace design to enable the SWB model to carry three Euro pallets loaded to at least one metre high.
- Load-through hatch in bulkhead enables loads up to three metres in length to be carried.
- Class-leading width between wheelarches allows loads up to eight feet by four feet to be accommodated flat.
- Deployable roof rack system integrated into the roof – when not in use, the cross bars can be folded down to reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency.
- Repositioned tie-down hooks and fixing points located on the body sides which leave the floor clear for easier loading and cleaning.
- Easy clean floor liner for improved durability and cleaning.
All versions of the new Transit – a two-tonne model was tipped to be unveiled at September’s Hannover show in Germany – will be driven by the new 2.2-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel engine recently introduced into the current model.
Available in 100PS, 125PS and 155PS, this unit adds stop-start and regenerative charging for fuel efficiency from 42.8mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 174g/km.
We also expect the 155bhp unit, currently only available in rear-wheel drive formats, to be made available in FWD versions.
The new Transit will include a raft of new technology, some of which will be available on a van for the first time.
This includes Sync, Ford’s in-vehicle connectivity system which can read aloud incoming messages through a text-to-speech feature and enables drivers to send a text reply by voice from a pre-determined list of responses.
Drivers connect mobile phones and music devices by Bluetooth or USB for hands-free operation.
Sync also includes Ford’s new emergency assistance feature which enables occupants to contact the emergency services in more than 30 countries through the van’s GPS locator.
The Transit has never been one of the quietest vans on the road and the engineers have been working hard to make the new model a more relaxing and quieter drive.
This includes making the platform stiffer and stronger – torsional stiffness has increased by as much as 37% – which will also benefit handling.
Meanwhile, suspension components and the steering system have been tuned to further improve ride comfort and handling, while the electronic stability control now features hill launch assist, trailer sway assist and torque vectoring control for enhanced traction and stability.
Another issue with the current model is the steering wheel doesn’t adjust for height and reach – this will be a feature of the new model.
In addition, the driver’s seat can be moved further backwards by 30mm to accommodate taller drivers.
Three trim levels are also being planned in a bid to capture a bigger share of the owner-driver market while not ignoring the more basic fleet needs.
Minimising cost of ownership was a key factor during the development of the new van. Ford claims maintenance and repair times have been reduced, while fleets will also benefit from a 12-year anti-perforation warranty and the longest service intervals in class at two years/30,000 miles.
It will release final details on weights and dimensions in August, while pricing will be announced in October/November.
A spokesman said: “2012 is a significant year for Ford as the roll-out of a new range of commercial vehicles begins.”