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Preview by Mike Schlee, photos by Mike Schlee and Courtesy of Ford

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2014 Ford Transit

2014 Ford Transit
2014 Ford Transit. Click image to enlarge.

Prepare for the next wave of the invasion. First it was the Dodge/Mercedes-Benz Sprinter European commercial vans that infiltrated our commercial full-size van fleets, and now it is the Ford Transit’s turn. For the 2014 model year, after 51 years of service, Ford will be replacing the long-in-the-tooth E-Series commercial van. Ford’s choice to bring the all-new Transit to our shores was a multi-tiered decision. For starters, Ford is shrinking the number of global platforms they employ. They had 19 in 2007, will have 13 in 2014, and plan to reach a target of just 9 global platforms soon. Ford considers their commercial trucks to be part of their company DNA, which is good news for the Blue Oval as roughly 29 percent of the vehicles it sells around the world are commercial vehicles.

So why the Transit, then? Well, it is currently available in 116 markets worldwide and has proven to be a huge success for Ford. But, with 788,000 commercial vehicle sales in North America in 2011, comprising 37.2 percent of the market share, Ford wanted to make sure their next offering was right for the market. They focused on their customers’ needs for commercial vehicles and found they are, in Ford’s words “hard working, open minded, owner/operators who are sensitive to fuel economy.” To ensure the Transit will be all things to all people, Ford will be offering it with three powertrains, in two two wheelbases, and three roof heights. The long-wheelbase, tallest-roof ‘Jumbo Transit’ will have twice the litres in cargo capacity of the smallest, regular-wheelbase Transit.

2014 Ford Transit 2014 Ford Transit 2014 Ford Transit
2014 Ford Transit. Click image to enlarge.

The biggest area of change, and potentially shocking to E-Series loyalists, are the engine options. The current E-Class has the choice of a 225-hp 4.6L V8, 255-hp 5.4L V8, and 305-hp 6.8L V10. The new Transit eschews these traditional offerings in favour of two V6s and one inline-5. Despite the reduction in cylinders, modern technology combined with a six-speed automatic transmission actually increases performance for the new Transit over the E-Series. The two six-cylinder engines come out of the Ford F-150 and are the familiar 3.7L V6 and 3.5L turbocharged Ecoboost V6. These engines are designed to replace the 4.6L V8 and 6.8L V10 respectively, and offer more horsepower, similar torque, lighter weight, and, of course, better efficiency. For those unsure if the full-size commercial van market will abandon V8s in favour of V6s, remember there was the same skepticism around the Ecoboost V6 engine when it was first put into the Ford F-150, and now 42 percent of all F-150 sales are made with the Ecoboost V6. That Ecoboost V6 will also be the most powerful engine available in a full-size van when it arrives to market next year.

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