By on February 9, 2009

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.

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31 Comments on “Ford: I See Your Volt and Raise You a Transit Connect...”


  • avatar
    tesla deathwatcher

    Ford’s full electric small car is being designed and built with Magna International. Magna bought BluWav Systems LLC in October last year to get the engineering for this. BluWav started out life as WaveCrest Laboratories in Washington DC.

    The Ford/Magna car should be a good one. Nothing revolutionary, but pushing the envelope for a reasonably-priced, reasonably-powered, reasonably-sized car. Not a Tesla Roadster by any means, but something like a Ford Focus converted to battery electric.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    Uh… how is Ford putting its name on a vehicle it makes with a powertrain it contracts with a third party to develop really any different than what goes on all over the automotive industry? Is encouraging automakers to develop things in-house when the same technology already exists from a supplier a good thing?

  • avatar
    Mr. Sparky

    I bet you can buy one before you can get a Volt…

  • avatar
    carguy

    What Brian E said +1

  • avatar
    RetardedSparks

    So, Ford can identify an underserved market niche, contract with a company that has ALREADY engineered, tested, and produced an electric drivetrain, provide a Ford warranty and dealer service, AND get the vehicle here a year (or 2 or 3) faster than GM?!!!

    And we wonder why Ford will be the last man standing in Detroit?

    The world is made up of two kinds of companies – the quick and the dead….

  • avatar

    Is anyone really going to buy the Transit Connect?

    I know it’s small, practical and frugal but with fullsize vans and trucks dirt cheap is the US really going to embrace it?

  • avatar
    findude

    it’s small, practical and frugal but with fullsize vans and trucks dirt cheap is the US really going to embrace it?

    I’m old enough to remember folks saying the same thing when the Datsun pickup hit U.S. shores. They sold so well that Ford and GM had to backpedal fast to introduce the brand-engineered Courier and Luv pickups.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    I don’t have a problem with Ford’s leveraging of Smith Electric Vehicles. Using what is already available instead of doing the not-invented-her thing sounds smart.

    I do have a problem with Ford’s PR group claiming that doing so is a shining example of the “One Ford” strategy. It reminds me of VW crowing about the German Engineering of the Chrysler, up VW Routan.

  • avatar
    jcp2

    The Routan is a Chrysler minivan with new headlights. The Electric Transit has a lot more Ford in it.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Is anyone really going to buy the Transit Connect?

    In Canada? Yes, just about anyone (and this includes a lot of fleet buyers) who are either suffering with short-wheelbase Uplanders or lamenting the loss of the Focus wagon

    In the US? Not entirely sure. Again, there’s a market for something smaller than the E-Series/Sprinter/Savana/Grand Caravan Panel. A lot will depend on how Ford prices this.

  • avatar

    Is anyone really going to buy the Transit Connect?

    I know it’s small, practical and frugal but with fullsize vans and trucks dirt cheap is the US really going to embrace it?

    I hate to admit this, but I’d rather buy a Ranger. I see them around my college campus almost daily, and in spite of their flaws I have to say I like the little guys. Tough, cheap transport can be had in a Ranger.

    Transit? Well, it’d better go for around $18K.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    With the 2.0L US MSRP is $21,475 + TTL.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    Transit connect. That’s the long spring-loaded gizbob on the back of the bus that feeds the juice down from the overhead wires, isn’t it?

  • avatar

    It depends on your payload. If 1600 lbs is enough, the fuel mileage of the Transit Connect might be appealing. Otherwise, yeah, E-150s are cheap and can haul about twice as much weight.

  • avatar
    63CorvairSpyder

    Kinda looks like a Ford Sprinter……mini

    I do think there is a place for a small(er) commercial van in the US. GM sold a ton of their Astro vans and the original Cry-sler mininvans were smaller than the “grown up” minivans. Alot of guys just dont need a full size work van for their particular line of work.

  • avatar
    mel23

    I can’t find it now, but I’m sure I read somewhere today that Ford would discontinue the E-Series. This is unbelievable. Maybe I did see it and it was wrong and has been removed. Anybody else see this? The E vans don’t seem to have been updated in years. GM gave up on the Astro, but then GM has given up on several things that they don’t update and eventually don’t sell well.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Otherwise, yeah, E-150s are cheap and can haul about twice as much weight.

    The killer for the Transit is city mileage. Any full-size van does poorly in an urban environment; the big engine and crude mechanicals take their toll. I don’t think this replaces the E-Series as much as gives Ford something that can more than compete against the SWB Uplander and Caravan Panel Van.

    It will be interesting to see if Ford will sell Transit chassis to the aftermarket body-builders. The base Transit equipped with a sizable aluminum or fibreglass body would be a big hit with light trades, delivery and such.

    Something like this: http://www.unicell.com/bodies/srw.html

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    @mel23: the current Transit was designed in North America and was originally supposed to replace the E-150 a few years ago, but Ford USA didn’t want it. Ford Mexico offers it.

  • avatar
    faygo

    Transit Connect is not big Transit, so whatever AN is reporting (don’t have a subs to read it) relative to plans for Transit’s future have nothing to do with the Connect.

  • avatar
    RobertSD

    Transit Connect: a C170 Focus-based vehicle whose back end is basically a truck back-end (except the differential) to support the payload requirements. The Transit Connect will be arriving on our shores in late-May.

    Transit: a much larger van, closer in size to the Sprinter (well, with many sizes, in fact). The Transit was developed in Europe with NA in mind (it was not primarily engineered in NA unless I’m completely crazy all of a sudden). There have been plans to merge the Transit and E-series for years, though. In 2007, development of the Transit pegged a specific GVWR that made it U.S.-ready. The plans originally called for introducing a single platform for Transit/E-series sometime in late-2010 or early-2011 (they’ve had some Transits up at Avon Lake for a while now according to some Ford workers). In all likelihood, this delay pushes it 6-12 months back.

    Will the Transit Connect sell well? Yes. Well, by well, I mean meet Ford’s 20-30k target. This isn’t a massive segment Ford is trying to fill, yet.

    And +1 to the comments above. Why re-invent the wheel? If someone does it or does it significantly better, it’s safer to spread the risks – and potentially much more rewarding for both when your vehicles come to market faster.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    I sat in one at the Boston autoshow a few weeks ago. I like it a lot.

    It had barrier cage behind front seats, and after market gray industrial boxing in rear, with no remaining passenger interior behind seats.

    I don’t need the cage or boxes, would want seats and windows installed in the cutout blanks. It looked like it would fit a motorcycle in rear. And room to lay down on bench, a mini camper.

    It would make a great small sprinter, as said above. 2.0 gas 5 speed. Passenger car seats and ride height.

    Why ding them or ding Magna? Its nice vehicle either way.

    No, it wont sell in USA.

    We get what we deserve, bling F150s swerving out of control and tailgating everywhere.

  • avatar
    James2

    John Horner,
    I read the press release and I don’t see why you’re so irritated. Ford credited Smith and, as far as I know, “One Ford” means no more duplication of efforts. Pre-Mulally, Ford NA would have resisted the Transit Connect and insisted on doing its own. Now, they see that something is already available –and they bring it over. How refreshing!

    Seems to me you’re being cynical for the sake of being cynical.

  • avatar
    dwford

    The author seems unaware of how autos are designed these days. The huge suppliers design whole subsystems for the automakers. The automakers don’t design the whole car, then pass off the designs to suppliers for parts construction.

    In Japan, the automakers subcontract the total assembly of some of their cars to their suppliers..

  • avatar
    TRL

    We have a fleet of E-250’s. Because of the weight we need to carry the Transit Connect won’t work for us. While the volume is OK, the weight isn’t close.

    It will sell well in my opinion as someone else pointed out the commercial Astro and to a degree the commercial Areostar did OK and this will get far better mileage.

    I would gladly move to a full sized Transit from the E-250’s if the price was the same, load capacity the same, and mileage better. Who wouldn’t? Even a little better mileage is a big deal as we typically put around 50k/year of mostly urban miles on these things at 10-12 mpg.

  • avatar
    Scorched Earth

    Oh come onnnn John Horner. Would you criticize the Mustang GT500 just because a third party (Shelby) worked on it?

  • avatar
    benders

    The Transit Connect will sell: just look at the number of businesses that bought Scion xB’s as work vehicles.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Perhaps I am too jaded by by what I hear as corporate double-speak. Years enduring life inside corporate America do that to some people.

    But honestly, wouldn’t the press release have been more straightforward if the sentence extolling “One Ford” was dropped out?

    In any case, I really hope the Transit Connect does well in the US. This market needs a practical, rugged and small commercial vehicle, and nobody is providing one.

  • avatar
    mach1

    To set the record straight:

    RobertSD :
    February 9th, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Transit: a much larger van, closer in size to the Sprinter (well, with many sizes, in fact). The Transit was developed in Europe with NA in mind (it was not primarily engineered in NA unless I’m completely crazy all of a sudden).

    For the The big Transit Van was developed in North America (Dearborn) for the 2000 model year by an international team with a heavy contingent of Americans. Europe (primarily Britain and Germany) sent a number key management and engineering people to work with the NA team. Several Americans sipported the production launch at the Genk Assembly Plant in Belgium.

  • avatar
    mach1

    To set the record straight:

    RobertSD :
    February 9th, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Transit: a much larger van, closer in size to the Sprinter (well, with many sizes, in fact). The Transit was developed in Europe with NA in mind (it was not primarily engineered in NA unless I’m completely crazy all of a sudden).

    For the The big Transit Van was developed in North America (Dearborn) for the 2000 model year by an international team with a heavy contingent of Americans. Europe (primarily Britain and Germany) sent a number key management and engineering people to work with the NA team. Several Americans supported the production launch at the Genk Assembly Plant in Belgium.

  • avatar
    mach1

    To set the record straight:

    RobertSD :
    February 9th, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Transit: a much larger van, closer in size to the Sprinter (well, with many sizes, in fact). The Transit was developed in Europe with NA in mind (it was not primarily engineered in NA unless I’m completely crazy all of a sudden).

    For the The big Transit Van was developed in North America (Dearborn) for the 2000 model year by an international team with a heavy contingent of Americans. Europe (primarily Britain and Germany) sent a number key management and engineering people to work with the NA team. Several Americans supported the production launch at the Genk Assembly Plant in Belgium.

    The Transit was refreshed in 2007 and this was done at the Dunton Enginnering Centre in the UK with some inpit from Dearborn.

  • avatar
    mach1

    To set the record straight:

    RobertSD :
    February 9th, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Transit: a much larger van, closer in size to the Sprinter (well, with many sizes, in fact). The Transit was developed in Europe with NA in mind (it was not primarily engineered in NA unless I’m completely crazy all of a sudden).

    For the The big Transit Van was developed in North America (Dearborn) for the 2000 model year by an international team with a heavy contingent of Americans. Europe (primarily Britain and Germany) sent a number key management and engineering people to work with the NA team. Several Americans supported the production launch at the Genk Assembly Plant in Belgium.

    The Transit was refreshed in 2007 and this was done at the Dunton Engineering Centre in the UK with some input from Dearborn.

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