2010 Ford Transit Connect Photo
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What do European motorists know that we, here in the States, haven’t yet figured out? When it... Read more »
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What do European motorists know that we, here in the States, haven’t yet figured out? When it comes to Ford products, quite a lot, it seems. The automaker’s continental offerings include a striking list of vehicles that could find a welcome home here on this side of the Atlantic.


That’s likely to change, in the years to come, as Ford globalizes its line-up. The Verve small car concept, first shown in Detroit, last month, is one example. And the Transit Connect van, debuting at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show, is another.


“This workhorse is like nothing available today in the American market,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of Global Product Development. That’s not just PR spin.


The smaller of two versions of the van sold in Europe, Transit Connect is specifically designed for tight, urban environments, where space is at a premium and fuel prices are high. These days, that’s beginning to look a lot more like the U.S., Ford is betting, as it readies to launch the functional little van here in the summer of 2009.


At 6’8” tall, the Transit Connect can fit into most urban parking structures, yet it has a surprising amount of cargo space inside a total of 143 cubic feet — which would make it perfect for wine or flower merchants, for example, or a caterer. (It can handle loads of up to 6.5 feet in length and 4.7 feet in width.) And the distinctive sides also provide a striking mobile billboard.


Four different configurations are on display in Chicago, including a traveling equipment hauler for the well-known blues man, Eddie Shaw, and his band, the Wolf Gang. Another is a mobile delivery van for the popular Chicago wine shop, Schaefer’s.


With some experts predicting gas will hit $4 or more a gallon by the time Transit Connect crosses the ocean, fuel economy might be an even bigger selling point. The van is powered by a 2.0-liter gasoline engine, mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. (A U.S. version of one of Ford’s European diesels could follow, according to Kuzak.) The powertrain package is expected to deliver 19 mpg city, 24 highway. That’s about two better than the comparable cargo vans from Dodge and Chevrolet.


Sized somewhere between the new Ford Flex and the automaker’s bigger E-Series vans, Transit Connect is initially geared for commercial applications. But in Europe, noted Kuzak, it is often converted for personal use. The same thing might happen State-side, as well.


Initially, at least, Transit Connect will be imported from a Ford plant in Turkey, but longer term, if it gains a foothold, a North American production site could be in the cards.

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