Report: Ford Killing Transit Connect

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
report ford killing transit connect

While not as popular as the full-sized Ford Transit, the smaller Transit Connect makes an excellent vehicle for small business owners and families that want something that offers an abundance of cargo space but is still easy to park. Though it doesn't seem that enough of those people existed in North America because the automaker has reportedly opted to make the model a European exclusive after 2023.

According to Automotive News, Ford will discontinue the Transit connect by the end of next year — further shrinking the small van segment in the United States.

With the Nissan NV200 and Chevrolet City Express having previously exited the market, options are getting limited. Mercedes-Benz Vans has recently elected to eliminate the slightly larger Metris as well, perhaps showcasing that the U.S. doesn't have much of an appetite for modestly sized vans. Ford's best year for the Transit Connect was when it sold 52,221 (plus another 2,800 in Canada) in 2015. Since then, the annual volume has gone back and forth between 30,000 and 40,000 units. However, it could certainly be argued that the last couple of years haven't been representative of what anyone would call a normal sales period.

But steadier sales still probably wouldn't have saved Ford's versatile city van. The Transit Connect was already enjoying volumes that weren't too far behind the Ram ProMaster City (which is arguably the better value) and Blue Oval was rumored to be trying to work out a deal to build its successor at the Hermosillo Assembly Plant in Mexico (current Transit Connects come from Europe). Automotive News claimed that the deal had fallen through, with the company figuring it just made more sense to continue building/selling it in Europe while it focuses on electrifying the larger full-size Transit.

Regional tastes may have also played a factor. Americans thinking there's even the faintest possibility of their needing a working vehicle typically run with trucks — which is something I don't think I'll ever truly understand. Just yesterday I had to avoid several unsecured items that fell off the back of a short-bed pickup and my immediate thought was that this never would have been an issue if the guy had been driving a van. However, the reality is that Americans just prefer trucks and I'm obliged to defend their right to own them, regardless of my thinking they're often a poor choice for most people's needs.

That said, none of the above really feels like a valid explanation for giving this little van its walking papers. There's no reason the Transit Connect couldn't have existed alongside Ford's many pickups and its volume in Europe (as the Tourneo Connect) isn't all that impressive vs North America. Perhaps Ford couldn't manage the manufacturing logistics or just didn't think it would be competitive (see: Profitable) moving ahead. As previously stated, the Ram ProMaster City does seem to offer better value for money as a working vehicle, whereas the Transit Connect tends to excel more when it's doing double duty as a people mover and cargo carrier. The problem here is that nicer versions of the Ford tend to be priced dangerously close to the MSRPs of larger minivans that can also do both.

My guess is that the entire segment simply ended up being ill-suited for most of North America. These kinds of vans are great when you're spending most of your time in the city and don't want to deal with something bigger. But the overall market still has a lot of wide-open spaces and trends toward larger products, which is likely why we've seen the segment continue to shrink. Whatever the reason, Ford is assumed to provide its own rationale in the coming days. But the Transit Connect will still be put out to pasture at the end of 2023

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

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2 of 26 comments
  • Luke42 Luke42 on Sep 06, 2022

    I wanted a Transit Connect Wagon as a project-conversion in the worst kind of way after I traded in my old Ford Ranger.

    They're really neat little vehicles.

    I still want something like that from time-to-time to support my out-standing-in-the-field hobbies (full-scale sailplane flying, RC, and kid-sports). But now it needs to be a BEV that can to tow 6000lbs - so I'll be waiting a while.

  • Nick Naylor Nick Naylor on Sep 14, 2022

    What a shame...I have a 2014 Long Wheelbase XLT Transit Connect. Literally best vehicle I've ever owned. 7 passenger, fuel efficient, good driving van that in a pinch all seats fold flat and it has been a great business vehicle (I have a surfboard business) that I've used for deliveries over the past 8 years, and then fold seats up and it's a great around town kid hauler (3 kids here). There is no other combination of efficiency and usefulness as good as this vehicle. I've driven it over 100k miles with zero issues. 125k now on it, bought it in 2015 with 25k on it for $18k. Per Autotrader, it holds its value like crazy, probably only depreciated a few thousand dollars, and likely won't be depreciating much more anytime soon with this news

  • Inside Looking Out "And safety was enhanced generally via new reversing lamps and turn signals fitted as standard equipment."Did not get it, turn signals were optional in 1954?
  • Lorenzo As long as Grenadier is just a name, and it doesn't actually grenade like Chrysler UltraDrive transmissions. Still, how big is the market for grossly overpriced vehicles? A name like INEOS doesn't have the snobbobile cachet yet. The bulk of the auto market is people who need a reliable, economical car to get to work, and they're not going to pay these prices.
  • Lorenzo They may as well put a conventional key ignition in a steel box with a padlock. Anything electronic is more likely to lock out the owner than someone trying to steal the car.
  • Lorenzo Another misleading article. If they're giving away Chargers, people can drive that when they need longer range, and leave the EV for grocery runs and zipping around town. But they're not giving away Chargers, thy're giving away chargers. What a letdown. What good are chargers in California or Nashville when the power goes out?
  • Luke42 I'm only buying EVs from here on out (when I have the option), so whoever backs off on their EV plans loses a shot at my business.