Ford debuts Transit Connect van, Work Solutions technologies

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Ford announced today, Feb. 6, that it is showcasing two new products at the Chicago Auto Show that it says will bring new levels of productivity to the commercial truck customer.

First is the introduction of the Transit Connect, a European-engineered compact van. Transit Connect is designed to bring American small business owners a new vehicle choice that offers improved fuel economy, bigger load capacity and better cargo accessibility than today’s commercial vehicle offerings.

Second is Ford Work Solutions, a collection of affordable technologies designed to provide customers connectivity, flexibility and security to better run key aspects of their business from their Ford Truck – even on the jobsite.

Transit Connect

“Ford Transit Connect is built on a dedicated, commercial vehicle platform to meet the rigors business use demands,” says Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of global product development. “This workhorse is like nothing available today in the American market. The Transit Connect provides another example of Ford’s commitment to deliver 100 percent new or upgraded products that people truly want and value by the end of 2010.”

With its standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and automatic transmission, Transit Connect delivers fuel economy estimated at 19 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. Describing its closest competitors as cargo vans offered by Chevrolet and Dodge, Ford says Transit Connect will provide a significant city fuel economy advantage, while offering more cargo space; both are increasingly important to small business owners in today’s changing marketplace.

“More than ever before, consumers are making the bulk of their purchases from the Internet and smaller, specialty businesses, which is increasing the volume of small package deliveries,” Kuzak says. “Transit Connect is ideally suited to meet those delivery needs because of its flexible package, compact size and fuel-efficient powertrain. It will make the delivery process for small business owners easier and more affordable.”

Ford says the compact van was built around the following key attributes:

  • Class-leading cargo area functionality and versatility;
  • High levels of durability through the use of thick high-strength steel and a reinforced body shell with partial double skin sides and twin side crossmembers;
  • Responsive and fuel-efficient powertrain;
  • High levels of security and safety, with a rigid body structure, side impact protection, dual front air bags and an array of security features, including a lockable hood; and
  • Low cost of ownership, from lower fuel costs to powertrain durability.
  • Transit Connect has cargo doors on both sides and at the rear – dual sliding side doors and 180-degree-opening rear doors – designed to make accessing its cargo area convenient. Its front doors have large openings, making getting in and out of the vehicle easier – an important design feature for delivery people, according to Ford.

    The Transit Connect cargo capacity is 143 cubic feet, Ford says, and it can accommodate loads up to 6.5 feet in length and 4.7 feet in width. “Transit Connect can swallow far more cargo than its users might think,” said Len Deluca, director of Ford Commercial Trucks. “Its versatile cargo area gives Transit Connect an unequivocal advantage, accommodating for large flat-sided loads and providing a totally flat load floor.”

    Straight and square side walls of the Transit Connect help provide a clean surface and perfect positioning for commercial branding logos and messages. Inside, storage systems can make Transit Connect ideal for specific businesses.

    Work Solutions

    Ford Work Solutions delivers four innovative features, according to the OEM:

  • An in-dash computer developed with Magneti Marelli and powered by Microsoft Auto that provides full high-speed Internet access via the Sprint Mobile Broadband Network and navigation by Garmin. This system, the first broadband-capable in-dash computer in production, allows customers to print invoices, check inventories and access documents stored on their home or office computer networks – right on the jobsite;
  • Tool Link, a Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) asset-tracking system developed in partnership with Dewalt, a provider of professional power tools; and ThingMagic, a provider of embedded RFID technology. This enables customers to maintain a detailed real-time inventory of the tools or equipment stored in the pickup box;
  • Crew Chief, a fleet telematics and diagnostics system that allows small fleet owners to efficiently manage their vehicles, quickly dispatch workers to jobsites and keep detailed vehicle maintenance records; and
  • Cable Lock, a security system developed in partnership with lock manufacturer Master Lock, to discourage theft of expensive tools too large to fit in the cab.
  • Ford says the Work Solutions features were developed through hands-on research with contractors and skilled tradespeople in multiple markets across the United States. “Ford Work Solutions provides truck customers new technologies and tools to help them work even smarter and further boost their productivity,” says Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas.

    All four Ford Work Solutions will be available this fall on the new 2009 Ford F-150 XL, STX, XLT and FX4 trucks; F-Series Super Duty XL, XLT and FX4 trucks; and all 2009 E-Series vans. Transit Connect vans join the lineup in mid-2009. In time, several of the features will be available for dealer installation to upgrade Ford Trucks already in service.