Following up on the Tourneo Custom passenger van shown earlier this year, Ford will introduce the new Transit Custom cargo van in Europe next week. The Transit Custom makes its debut at the Birmingham Commercial Vehicle show in the U.K., and goes on sale in Europe later this year.
It's important to note that this van is front-wheel drive and rides on what Ford consider a light-duty chassis. The new Ford Transit that will be sold in the U.S. market will be rear-wheel drive, boast a tougher platform, and may have bolder styling that might echo that of the F-Series truck line. Ford says that more commercial vehicles will be launched in the coming months, and says that by 2014, the brand's entire commercial vehicle range will have been refreshed.
About 40 percent of the body of the new Transit Custom is made from high-strength steels, which help make the vehicle both lighter and stronger. As a result, Ford says the new van is 37 percent stiffer than before, which will improve handling and reduce interior noise. There will be two different wheelbases, with overall vehicle length either 195.7 inches or 210.2 inches.
Clever concessions to use as a cargo van begin with a pass-through in the bulkhead, allowing long pipes or ladders to be partially carried in the passenger compartment. The sliding doors of the new Ford Transit are claimed to be larger than those of the competition, and that interior room between the fenders is wider than in other cargo vans. There also will be a folding roof rack, that can easily be stowed when not in use, more convenient cargo area tie-down hooks, and "easy clean" floor surfaces.
Improvements for driver comfort include a seat that can move farther back, a newly telescoping and tilting steering wheel, and the Sync voice recognition software. Also new to the Transit are features like a backup camera, Lane Keeping Alert, and a feature that warns if it detects the driver is tired.
Power comes from Ford's turbocharged 2.2-liter DuraTorq diesel inline-four engine, with 98 hp, 123 hp, and 153 hp flavors available. It's very likely one of these will become available in the American-market Ford Transit; the automaker has already confirmed that our rear-wheel-drive Ford Transit will feature both an EcoBoost V-6 and a diesel engine. The European model also gets engine stop-start as standard.
Ford says that service intervals for the new Transit Custom are an impressively long two years or 30,000 miles, whichever comes first. The van has been subjected to a rigorous testing regime that involves slamming the doors 250,000 times and driving at least 250,000 miles. These standards are significantly more punishing than the tests Ford uses with regular passenger cars.
As has been announced before, Ford reminds us that the American version of the new Transit, which is a heavier-duty model with rear-wheel-drive, will be introduced before the end of 2012. That version of the Ford Transit will be sold globally. As a direct replacement for the aging E-Series/Econoline vans, Ford says the new Transit will be 300 pounds lighter and 25 percent more fuel-efficient than the E-Series.