The following is a blog by Examiner.com writer Julian Gothard asserting that Ford Motor Co.’s decision to bring the iconic Ford Transit van to the U.S. in 2013 would provide a versatile, efficient platform for the RV industry.
Workers at Ford Motor Co.’s Claycomo, Kansas City-based assembly plant will build the iconic Ford Transit van – Europe’s best-selling commercial vehicle – beginning in 2013. The U.S. introduction of the Ford Transit van chassis – which remains one of the top base vehicle choices for many European RV coachbuilders including Auto-Campers, Chausson, Tribute and Westfalia (CVC) – will help accelerate the RV industry’s push for smaller and more economical RV’s in North America.
The Ford Transit was judged the best base vehicle by Britain’s Motorcaravan Motorhome Monthly (MMM) magazine in both 2008 and 2009. In 2010, Practical Motorhome magazine voted Auto-Trail’s Tribute T620 motorhome – based on the Ford Transit chassis – the best budget-buy motorhome and the overall motorhome of the year. The magazine also voted the Tribute T720 – again on the Transit chassis – as runner-up in the best family motorhome category
Ford stated in a recent press release that they are investing $1.1 billion in a new body shop, new tooling in the final assembly area, an upgraded paint shop and an all-new integrated stamping plant, which will be located on an adjacent property in Liberty, Mo. A portion of the investment will also be used to support next-generation F-150 pickup production at the plant. The current SUV line at the Kansas City facility, which will be idled for re-tooling after the current Escape model is phased out in April, 2012, will re-open in 2013. During re-tooling, the plant will continue to build F-150 trucks.
While Ford’s current commercial van, the Ford E-Series wagon, van and cutaway – built at the company’s Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake, Ohio – will continue to be available through most of the decade, the cost savings associated with the new Transit van – it can achieve at least 25 percent better fuel economy when compared to similar Econoline vans – could lead to immediate changes in customer purchasing decisions.
Ford currently offers the E-350 and E-450 cutaway van with a motorhome prep package for the Class C recreational vehicle market. The E-Series is also a popular platform for Class B motorhomes. Ford announced in October that production of their F53 Super Duty Class A motorhome chassis – six offerings that range from a 16,000-pound gross-vehicle weight rating (GVWR) chassis to a 26,000-pound GVWR chassis – and F-59 commercial stripped chassis will be moved to their Avon Lake facility in Ohio. As yet there’s been no announcement from Ford disclosing how many US-based RV manufacturers will switch to the new Ford Transit van platform.
In Europe, the Ford Transit chassis is offered in a range of RV wheelbase lengths – from 3.3m to 3.95m – and there’s also a wider rear axle option which provides an improved stance. The European Transit is equipped with a fuel-efficient 115 PS or 140 PS six-speed Duratorq TDCi diesel engine plus an optional coated diesel particulate filter or a 5-cylinder 200ps engine that provides a best-in-class torque.
The Ford Transit chassis can be configured with Front Wheel Drive (FWD), Rear Wheel Drive (RWD) or All-Wheel Drive (AWD) and is equipped with ABS and Brake Assist – a system that detects emergency braking and applies maximum braking effort to potentially reduce the stopping distance – along with a Brake Traction Control System (BTCS) which aids traction when pulling away from rest. The Transit also includes Hill Launch Assist (HLA), which prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards during hill starts by temporarily holding the brakes. In addition, Ford provides the Transit with an Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and a rear view camera – for easier reversing and trailer attachment – as available options.
Americans are on notice that “White Van Man” is coming to the USA and he has every intention of replicating the phenomenal track record of the Ford Transit in both the British and European markets.