2013 Ford Transit Spy Photos: So Long, 1975! New Diesel and Twin-Turbo Haulers On the Way
What It Is: Ford’s upcoming full-size van and the replacement for the primeval E-series. The example spied here is a high-roof version; there will be a low-roof Transit available globally, but it may not come here. Other than its name, this new hauler is unrelated to the car-based Transit Connect and the European Transit Custom. In fact, the U.S.-market model may be marketed under the Transit banner but wear T-250, T-350, and T-450 badges.
Why It Matters: Even with a decrepit platform and thirsty engines, Ford sells a staggering number of E-series vans. Nearly all Ford vans are sold to fleets—government, utility companies, big businesses, and rental agencies—and the Transit needs to follow the E-series in opening the door to contracts to supply other Ford vehicles, too. Other automakers are pushing hard in the full-size-van field, and Ford will need this new, more-fuel-efficient product to maintain its market share in the segment, which was 51 percent last year. Even if sales stay strong, this all-new, high-tech Transit can’t match the gargantuan profit margins of the simple E-series, for which the major tooling has been paid for many times over and on which little R&D money has been spent over the past two decades.
Platform: A new body-on-frame architecture underpins the Transit, but some components will probably be sourced from the F-150 and the not-available-in-America version of the Ford Ranger. The outgoing European Transit was offered in front-, rear-, and all-wheel drive. Ours definitely will be sold with rear-wheel drive as standard equipment. All-wheel drive would be a good selling point, but cost and weight could preclude it. Front-wheel drive? You can probably forget it.
Powertrain: A twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 and a mystery diesel have been confirmed for the Transit’s American options sheet. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost six probably will make something near the 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque that it delivers in the EcoBoosted F-150. As for the diesel, our bet is on Ford’s 3.2-liter inline-five, which makes 197 hp and 420 lb-ft; it is offered in some Ford commercial vehicles in other countries. Ford’s strategy has been to position EcoBoost engines as a premium powertrain option, so as with many of its vehicles, the Transit is likely to offer at least one naturally aspirated gasoline engine. The company’s 300-ish-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 would be a natural fit.
Competition: Chevy Express, GMC Savana, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Nissan NV, upcoming Fiat-based Ram van.
Estimated Arrival Time and Price: Production starts in Ford’s Kansas City, Missouri, factory in 2013, but exactly when is still unclear. Stickers should start around $ 30,000, although fleet pricing is a little like the Electoral College—negotiations are opaque, few understand it, and in the end you can’t believe how cheaply something was sold.
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