Ford is unveiling the next generation one-tonneTransit, the Custom, at this year’s Commercial Vehicle Show. It goes on sale across Europe later this year and marks the beginning of a complete refresh of its entire light commercial range by 2014.
Transit Custom is all-new from the ground-up and will be available initially as short-wheelbase (SWB), front-wheel drive variants, to be joined later by long-wheelbase, rear-drive models. The current Transit already benefits from the new 2.2-litre Euro 5 drivetrains — one of the reasons it’s so impressive — and these are carried-over.
Despite sporting striking exterior styling and a cab interior more reminiscent of an MPV from the passenger car market rather than a one-tonne van, Transit Custom retains all the legendary load-carrying virtues of its predecessors; and some. Thanks in part to a new bulkhead design — which can include a nearside floor level hatch to accommodate over-length items — the SWB low roof Custom offers 6.0m3 of usable space and all models feature in excess of 1,220mm between the wheel boxes. Gross payloads range from 600kg to 1,400kg.
Load tie-down points have been relocated from the floor — which features a durable, easy-clean covering as standard— to the body sides to make sliding a load in easier.
Transit Custom is also available with an integrated roof rack system. It can be deployed when required and the cross bars can be quickly folded down when not in use, reducing drag and fuel consumption, as well as keeping the vehicle height under two metres (the exception is the 330 series).
As Barry Gale, commercial vehicles chief engineer, Ford of Europe puts it so succinctly: “This may be a more stylish Transit, but it’s a more functional Transit too. The additional features we have built into the load space make everyday functions more convenient; so it’s easier for customers to do their job.”
Engineers have developed the new Ford global one-tonne platform which underpins the Transit Custom to make it much stiffer and stronger — increasing torsional stiffness by as much as 37 percent — to optimise handling and reduce noise levels as much as possible. Suspension and steering system tuning was prioritised to improved ride comfort, along with providing more precise and agile handling. Like the new Ford Focus, the Transit Custom also benefits from the latest ESP technology with Torque Vectoring Control for enhanced traction and stability.
The stiffer structure, together with a comprehensive programme to reduce noise, vibration and harshness (NVH as it’s known in the industry) throughout the vehicle, should result in a quieter environment for the driver and passengers.
Keeping the overall cost-of-ownership was a high priority throughout the vehicle design and development process, with key features including minimised maintenance and repair times, a 12-year anti-perforation warranty and class-leading service intervals at two-years/30,000 miles.
Commenting on the dramatic departure in styling of the next generation Transit, Ford of Europe chief designer Paul Campbell said: “Customers want their vehicle to project a modern and professional image and the new Transit Custom does not disappoint. “We have given the vehicle a stylish, modern appearance which will be appreciated by businesses of all sizes. It’s still a Transit, so the superbly practical loadspace is a given, but with its sportier stance and bold rising shoulder line, the Transit Custom, makes a powerful new impact.”
Production of the new Transit Custom will start from mid-2012 at Ford’s plant in Kocaeli, Turkey, with market availability later in the year.