Lower gas prices and a turn-around in the housing market rekindled America’s love for the pickup, resulting in 2,000 new jobs at Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant. (Read More…)
Americans with well worn passports often amaze their less-traveled friends with miraculous tales of a land full of tiny, fuel-efficient vehicles, expensive gasoline and miniature cans of Coke. (Really, those Coke cans are awesome.) The story inevitably ends with, “I wish I could buy X here”. Ford has so far been the most receptive to these cries, with the tasty Euro Focus, Fiesta (and soon the Fusion/Mondeo) to our shores. But what about some fuel-efficient love for the man-in-the-van? That’s where the Transit Connect fits in according to Ford. TTAC is no stranger to the Transit Connect with our own Sajeev Meta taking a spin in 2009. However in this review, we’ll attempt to compare the Connect to the other commercial options on the market while channeling our inner Joe-six-pack.
The Connect is off to a good start, with sales climbing from 8,834 in 2009 to 31,914 in 2011 proving there is a market for a mini-bread-van. The small hauler even accounted for 21.4% of Ford’s US van sales in 2011. Meanwhile, sales of the ancient and thirsty E-Series increased from 85,735 units to 116,874 from 2010 to 2011. By comparison, GM shifted just 89,211 vans in 2011. The reason behind the sales jump is obvious: high gas prices and no efficient cargo haulers to compete with it. But does that mean you should own one?
After taking a look at product planning and marketing for new cars, it’s time to take a step back into the supposed domain of Generation Why; used cars. And not just any old CPO Audi or two year old Civic either. We’re talking beaters.
Ford makes great full size trucks, but repeat after me: not everyone cares about the F-150. There’s more to being a Ford truck than what Toby Keith and Mike Rowe said. Listen up peeps: this is a story of having a growth and retention strategy for one product line, and an exit strategy for another.
Though Toyota is getting the brunt of the attention for what are apparently faulty gas pedals, the fact that the problem has been traced to supplier CTS means that Toyota isn’t the only OEM that’s shutting down production until a fix for the pedals is found. Bloomberg reports that Ford’s JV with Jiangling Motors in Nanchang, China has halted production of the Ford Transit commercial van, after switching over to CTS-supplied pedals in December. “We think it’s pretty isolated, but we are aggressively running it to ground,” Ford’s Alan Mulally told analysts in today’s financial results conference call. No other Transits are said to be affected, and Jiangling says that they have not received any reports of unintended acceleration for its Transits.
Ford’s press release lays down markers for its electric powered vehicle offerings. First up, an all electric version of the Transit Connect small commercial vehicle for 2010. But wait, the Electric Transit Connect is actually the work of Smith Electric Vehicles, a UK based company which has been re-powering conventional commercial vehicles for years. No surprise then that Ford’s Electric Transit Connect looks and specs out just like Smith’s “Ampere” (pdf). This makes Ford’s PR spin a bit hard to swallow when they say: “The initiative leverages the “One Ford” global strategy, delivering pure battery electric power for commercial applications on a global platform.” Slapping your name on someone else’s work must be the newest definition of “One Ford.” Further on, Ford is promising a full electric small car for 2011 and its Volt-zapping plug-in hybrid fin 2012. One can only hope the promised “full electric small car” doesn’t have the name Zap hidden under it somewhere.