Editor's note: the Ford Transit was designed in Dunton, England. That location was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.
Andrew Janison uses an unprintable four-syllable expletive to describe the gyrations and contortions his customers had to perform as they entered and exited his aging fleet of Ford E-series vans.
Janison is president of TransWest, a Seattle-based transportation company with 575 employees. The business derives much of its revenue by transporting thousands of workers daily to and from industrial job sites. Since last year, Janison has been replacing his company's fleet of old-style, truck-based E-series vans.
He's moving his business to the taller, roomier, Euro-styled Ford Transit, a unibody vehicle that is dramatically easier to load and unload, costs less to operate and, according to his employees, is far more enjoyable to drive. More important for Trans-West: Passengers no longer have to duck as they enter and exit the vehicle.
"The Transit has been head-and-shoulders above the E-350s we were running," says Janison.
The Transit, which arrived on these shores in 2014, is one of a trio of Euro vans that is rendering the classic bulbous American van obsolete. Only General Motors continues to market a traditional, body-on-frame, truck-based, full-size van, the Chevy Express and the GMC Savana.
Daimler started the Euro van trend in 2001 with its tall Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, which also is marketed as the cargo-only Freightliner Sprinter. When Daimler owned what is now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Dodge sold a version of the Sprinter until 2009. In late 2013, FCA's Ram division finally replaced it with an Americanized version of the Fiat Ducato, called the ProMaster.