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Feature Flick: Ford Begins Prep for 2013 Transit's North American Debut

It wasn't much of a surprise when Ford announced that it would be bringing the Transit commercial van to North America to replace the venerable (and dated) Econoline/E-Series. Last updated in 1998, the E-Series can't really hold a candle to new competition from Mercedes-Benz and Nissan, and upcoming competition from a Fiat-based Ram model. Today, Ford released a video showing that its been actively testing the new Transit in the United States at its proving grounds, and in the streets with Michigan contractors as it preps for its 2013 introduction.

In preparation of the Transit's North American launch, Ford wanted to make sure that its current customers wouldn't miss the old E-Series. A key element for success in North America's commercial van market is durability. The Econoline may be a dinosaur, but has an enviable reputation for durability. To make sure the Transit is up to snuff, Ford is currently testing the Transit at its Michigan Proving Grounds, out on the streets with contractors, and is currently building a new test course to impart even more abuse on the Transit. Ford said that the new road will feature many curbs that the Transit will have to jump thousands of times in testing. Why all the curb jumping? According to Ford, European delivery drivers are often forced to hop curbs on a regular basis, so it's testing all Transits to make sure they can handle the abuse.

Ford also said the Transit will achieve at least 25 percent better fuel economy than the Econoline, "Thanks in part to smart weight savings that will trim at least 300 pounds from the Transit." The E-Series lags behind the competition with its fuel economy - in its most efficient form with its 4.6-liter 225-hp V-8 and four-speed auto the E-Series is only good for 13/17 mpg city/highway.  We're inclined to believe that the other part of the Transit's fuel savings will be due to a more modern transmission and possibly one or more diesel engine options.

So far, Ford is mum on engine options for the Transit (which will be called the T-Series here in the United States). In Europe it currently offers the choice of three diesels: a 2.2-liter turbodiesel I-4 that produces anywhere from 98-hp and 229 lb-ft of torque, to 153-hp and 284 lb-ft of torque, as well as a larger 2.4-liter turbodiesel I-4, and bigger still 3.2-liter turbodiesel I-5. Ford also sells the Transit in rear- and all-wheel drive form in Europe. While there's no word on specific engine or drivetrain configurations for the T-Series, we expect at least one diesel option and rear-drive. What engine and drivetrain options would you like to see in the North American Transit?

As we previously reported, Ford will be building the 2013 Transit in its Kansas City Assembly Plant where the F-150 is currently built. Make sure to check out the video below for some of the brutal testing the Transit has been undergoing in preparation for its sale in the States.

Source: Ford, YouTube