Ford Motor Co. plans to market the next-generation Transit Connect Wagon as a minivan alternative when it arrives in North America in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Ford hasn't made a minivan since it stopped building the slow-selling Freestar in 2006.
Ford designers and engineers have done extensive work on the interior of the redesigned Transit Connect to make it more family-friendly than the current model, which has functional but basic appointments. The Transit Connect Wagon also has sliding doors, something Ford doesn't currently offer in any other passenger vehicle in North America.
Last week Ford introduced the European version, called the Tourneo Connect, in Amsterdam at a glitzy media event at which the company unveiled several other vehicles for Europe.
Ford introduced the Transit Connect in the United States in 2009. It is sold in passenger and cargo versions. The next-generation Transit Connect and the Transit Connect Wagon will be built in Valencia, Spain, for North America.
The Amsterdam event, hosted by CEO Alan Mulally and Ford of Europe President Stephen Odell, was conceived to signal Ford's continuing confidence in Europe and its strategy of responding to the recession there by investing more money in products in anticipation of an eventual turnaround.
Under its One Ford global product plan, Ford is consolidating most of its fleet on five global platforms with regional variations. That means taking vehicles developed in Europe and selling them in North America and other regions, and taking vehicles developed and built in the United States to Europe and other markets.
Ford last week laid out the following examples:
- The Mustang pony car and Edge crossover, both developed for the United States, will be sold in Europe. Ford did not specify a timetable for either vehicle.
- The EcoSport, a Fiesta-based small crossover developed in South America and sold in developing markets, soon will be sold in Europe.
- The Transit large commercial van, developed in Europe, will be manufactured and sold in North America starting in late 2013, replacing the E-series van.
The Transit, which will be built in Kansas City, Mo., will offer commercial customers more versatility than the long-serving E-series commercial van. Unlike the E series, the Transit will be offered in multiple roof heights and wheelbases.
The Transit will be offered with an EcoBoost diesel engine or an EcoBoost gasoline engine, which will better the fuel economy of the outgoing E series by at least 25 percent, Ford officials say.
Ford plans to continue making some versions of the E series at its Avon Lake, Ohio, factory through most of the rest of the decade after Transit production has begun in Kansas City. Those versions will include the strip chassis, used for custom cargo vans, and the cutaway, used in applications such as airport shuttle vans.