Ford van's diesel could migrate to pickups
DETROIT -- When the Ford Transit commercial van debuts in early 2014, it will get the same two V-6 engines Ford offers in the F-150 pickup. But it's the Transit's third engine offering that could have the biggest long-term implications for Ford: a 3.2-liter, five-cylinder Power Stroke turbodiesel that eventually could find its way into the F-150, Ford's biggest seller in North America.
Ford officials declined to answer journalists' questions about that possibility when they unveiled the 2014 Transit commercial van, which will be shown at the Detroit auto show. But if the Transit's diesel powerplant fits in the same engine bay as the van's two gasoline engines, it should fit in the F-150's engine bay as well.
Ford is using the same engine downsizing strategy for the Transit that has worked so well with the F-150. While the E series, Ford's full-sized workhorse van, has been sold with two V-8s and a V-10, the Transit will be offered with the same V-6s that are in the F-150: a conventionally aspirated 3.7-liter and a 3.5-liter EcoBoost.
Sales of F-150s equipped with the EcoBoost V-6 have exploded since Ford began offering it in 2011 and now account for more than 40 percent of F-150 sales. Ford has sold about 250,000 EcoBoost pickups since 2011.
The two V-6s together now account for more than half of F-150 sales. The engines have not been EPA certified for the Transit, but Ford says the Transit's fuel economy will be an average of 25 percent better than the E series'. The two commercial vans will be made side-by-side while Ford phases in the Transit.
In the Transit, the Power Stroke diesel will be teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission that can be manually shifted. Ford already sells the five-cylinder diesel in its global Ranger mid-sized pickup as a premium option, said Peter Lyon, Ford's chief calibration engineer. He said the engine cranks out 197 hp and 347 pounds-feet of torque in the Ranger. Figures aren't available for the Transit application.
The diesel, which Ford first started offering in Europe in the late 1990s, is the only engine available on Transit vans in Europe, where diesel powertrains dominate the commercial vehicle sector.
Lyon said the 3.2-liter Power Stroke diesel has been certified to pass emissions requirements in all 50 states and Canada.
The Power Stroke diesel is manufactured in Ford's Struandale Engine Plant in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. It will be shipped from there to Ford's Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Mo., where Ford will begin assembling the Transit in late 2013.
The Transit will be offered in three roof heights and two wheelbases, compared with two wheelbases and one roof-height for the E series. The Transit will be offered in both cargo van and passenger wagon configurations. Ford is hoping the combination of smaller engines, lighter weight, higher fuel economy and greater versatility will increase commercial van sales in North America.
You can reach Bradford Wernle at firstname.lastname@example.org.