Ford launches new Transit van

Company brings ‘the pick-up truck of Europe’ stateside to replace its E-series platform.

August 12, 2014
Supplier News

KIRTLAND, Ohio – At a dealer launch event east of Cleveland, Ford Motor introduced the Transit, its latest offering for landscapers and lawn care operators looking for an alternative to the traditional pick-up truck.

MinYang Jiang, Ford Transit brand manager, called the Transit “the pick-up truck of Europe,” saying it has the same presence across the pond as a V8 long bed does in the states. The company introduced the Transit – a miniature box van, essentially – in 1965 in Europe and has since sold 7 million of them on the Continent.

She said Ford has seen a trend toward small business owners “right-sizing” their vehicles – buying just the power, utility and features they need, and not a lot extra.

The full-size van segment fits that growing demand, she said. The Transit has been brought to the American market to replace Ford’s outgoing E-series vans, which have long been popular with landscapers to equip irrigation, lawn care and lighting crews.

And while it’s not a replacement for many owners’ preferred pick-up truck, the van offers different benefits: it’s a 100-percent enclosed and lockable vehicle, and offers rolling billboard space with its large side panels.

While the Transit gains significantly more interior space than the outgoing E-Series, it loses much of the towing power that made the old van an easy choice for landscapers debating between a pickup or a van. The least capable E-Series van, an E-150 with a 4.6-liter V-8 and an extended wheelbase, was rated at 5,900 lbs. for towing, and the most capable could pull 10,000 lbs.

The Transit lineup, powered mostly by V-6 engines, has tow ratings stating at 3,100 lbs. and ranging as high as 7,600 lbs.

Jiang acknowledged that van owners who had been used to pulling heavy loads with the E-Series may feel the need to move up to a pickup rather than a Transit. Before launching the new van, Ford surveyed its customers and found that the Transit met the towing needs of nearly 80% of its customers.

The new Transits are built at Ford’s Kansas City, Mo., plant, and designed to be modified. The new models come pre-built with bolt holes in the sides and roof to accept a wide configuration of shelving, storage, etc. previously, upfitters had to drill their own holes after the vans were built, which put the vehicle at greater risk for premature rusting.

Jiang said any upfitters interested in working with Ford are required to have a location near the plant – company representatives say 11 have already set up and more are moving in.

Ford introduces the full-size Transit after several years offering the smaller Ford Transit Connect van. The four-cylinder Connect, first introduced in 2009, is built on a Focus platform and starts at $22,000 MSRP. 

The 2015 Ford Transit has three engine options: The base model comes with a 3.7 liter V6, which produces 275 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. Next is the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, which produces 310 hp and 400 lb.-ft. of torque, the same engine available in the F-150. The Transit also accepts a 3.2-liter Power Stroke diesel produces 185 hp and 350 lb.-ft. of torque.

With two wheelbases (129.9 and 147.6 inches) and three roof heights (83.6- 100.8 and 110.1-inch), the Transit comes in 58 total configurations. The largest option gives operators 487 cubic feet of storage space. Max payload is 4,650 lbs., and towing capacity tops out at 7,500 lbs. The base model start at $29,565 MSRP.

Other features include:
- Driver assist – forward-facing cameras watch lane markers, and give the driver some gentle remiders to focus if the vehicle starts to drift without the turn signals engaged. 
- The vehicles can be equipped with Ford’s Crew Chief tracking software
- The rear doors in the long wheel base model swing open 270 degrees and are held in place with magnets. Both the rear and side doors are wide enough to accept a pallet.