By G.R. Whale
As part of Ford’s global convergence, the full-size Transit van sold in Europe will be built at the Kansas City, Mo., plant in 2013 as part of the plant’s $1.1 billion overhaul. The van will co-exist with the E-Series for a while, but eventually the Transit will replace the E-Series entirely.
Now in production for more than 45 years and with sales of more than 6 million units, the Transit is the best-selling van in the segment in Europe and the United Kingdom, and it’s sold in a wide range of configurations: front-, rear- and all-wheel drive; single-rear-wheel or dually; three roof heights; four lengths; and sold as a van, passenger minibus, cab, and chassis and cutaway chassis.
If we read between the lines correctly, the U.S. will get the rear-drive model initially, and an all-wheel-drive option may be added later.
Ford says the Transit will offer E-Series capability in a package that is at least 300 pounds lighter (which derivative was not specified) and get at least 25 percent better fuel economy (the highest-rated E-Series vehicle gets 13/17 mpg city/highway).
Ford says it is proud of the Transit’s ability to hop curbs in Europe — a common practice among delivery drivers — but the company will have to test for durability for American curbs, which are substantially larger.
Overseas, the Transit is offered with 2.2- and 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines and a 3.2-liter five-cylinder common-rail turbo-diesel and a standard six-speed manual transmission. The 2.2L ranges from about 100 to 155 horsepower, and torque measures about 285 pounds-feet, while the stoutest 3.2L could bring 200 hp and 350 pounds-feet or more. Certifying a 2.2L diesel could make it usable in the Ford Focus, C-Max, Fusion, Transit Connect and F-150; in lighter-duty trim, it could generate 200 hp and 325 pounds-feet of torque. We also learned the Transit will get the 3.7-liter V-6 of the F-150, and with similar weights to haul around, it should make close to 300 hp and 280 pounds-feet of torque.
We're guessing the Transit should make its formal debut at the 2012 Detroit auto show or 2012 L.A. Auto Show.