Good news, diesel van fans. Ford confirmed today it will offer a 3.2-liter, turbo-diesel I-5 in the North American-spec 2014 Transit, marking the first time a diesel has been offered in a Ford van since 2010.
Ford has openly stated it would offer a diesel-powered Transit in North America, but only affirmed the engine selection today. If you’ve read up on Ford’s overseas commercial vehicles, chances are the 3.2-liter is quite familiar. Although it’s now sold under the Power Stroke moniker, this engine is identical to the 3.2 Duratorq used in the new Ranger pickup sold elsewhere in the world (and, for that matter, similar to the 3.2-liter Duratorq briefly sold in Transit vans starting in 2008).
As such, the 3.2-liter Dura... – sorry; Power Stroke – remains a DOHC design with four valves per cylinder, common rail injectors, and a variable-nozzle turbocharger. The engine continues to utilize a cast iron block, aluminum cylinder heads, and cast aluminum pistons. Its confirmation for the our also marks the first application of selective catalyst reduction (SCR) in a U.S.-market Ford van. Ford also “expects” the engine will be able to run on 20-percent biodiesel blends. Although the Transit itself will be built in Kansas City, Missouri, for U.S. consumption, the diesel engine will be imported from Ford’s engine plant in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Predictably, Ford isn’t quite ready to talk final power numbers, as it’s still in the throes of finalizing tuning for the North American version. That said, the automaker says the European variant produces 197 horsepower and 347 lb-ft of torque. That’s more than what the U.S.-spec Mercedes-Benz Sprinter offers from its 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6 (188 hp, 325 lb-ft of torque), but it does trail the traditional diesel V-8s offered in North American cargo vans. Even Ford’s late 6.0-liter Power Stroke, which was last offered in the 2010 E-Series van, offered 235 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque. Will traditional van customers find it hard to adapt to this brave new world? Ford truck communication manager Mike Levine doesn't think so, noting Ford’s customer base is prioritizing fuel economy, and this engine allegedly delivers a substantial improvement.
But customers seeking improved fuel economy from their Transit van won’t necessarily be forced to adopt a diesel. Ford has already committed to offering the 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 in the North American 2014 Transit van, and a Transit equipped with that engine is also likely to be far more fuel efficient than any current E-Series van. Better yet, it’s also fairly powerful: In F-150 spec, that engine produces a hearty 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque – the latter arriving at a fairly low 2500 rpm. Is there still a reason to opt for the new Power Stroke instead of the EcoBoost? Levine believes so -- especially from a commercial buyer’s perspective.
“We’re giving our customers a choice [between gas and diesel],” Levine says, “and some will prefer diesel. They may leave their engine idling for long periods, or regularly carry or tow extreme loads.” Levine also notes some larger fleet customers may already own an all-diesel fleet, and even maintain diesel fuel pumps. In these cases, the Power Stroke may be a better fit.
Will the Power Stroke and EcoBoost be the Transit’s only engine offerings in North America? Ford won’t say, but we should have more information in the very near future. We’ve heard some rumblings the 2014 Transit – along with a complete list of specifications -- may appear at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Stay tuned.