Fleet News

Amsterdam CV Show: Transit Connect takes centre stage

FORD stole the limelight at the Amsterdam Commercial Vehicle Show by unveiling the eagerly-awaited Transit Connect light van.

The new model was revealed on the Ford stand by David Thursfield, chairman and chief executive officer of Ford Europe, and although no specification, payload, cargo carrying volume or price details are yet available, the new model is already being hailed as the year's big launch.

The Transit Connect (Ford has wisely chosen to retain the word Transit in its new name) is set to create a new sector in the LCV market and unlike its big brother, has a daring cutting edge shape that brought admiring stares from the gaggle of journalists present at the unveiling.

Thursfield said the all-new Transit had been unveiled at the same show two years ago and the Transit Connect was keeping the momentum going. He said: 'The Connect is not a car-derived van - it is being built on a dedicated van platform and will bring Transit standards of drivability and low cost of ownership to the small van sector for the first time. We are very excited about this new model - here you see the future of the small van sector.'

The Transit Connect is due to go on sale in late summer and the van on show at Amsterdam was very much a 'look but don't touch' exercise, but from first viewing it appears to tower head and shoulders above rivals the Citroen Berlingo, Renault Kangoo, Fiat Doblo Cargo and Vauxhall Combo, while looking much more businesslike by avoiding the Postman Pat look favoured by the other manufacturers.

In hi-roof long wheelbase format, this model has a dynamic appearance, with huge plastic bumpers all round and massive rubbing strips at the sides.

A large side loading door cuts right into the rear wheel arch and the rear doors sweep right up over the van's roofline.

Ford promises class-leading loadbox flexibility and security for the sub one-tonne sector, along with new levels of ruggedness. After launch, a short wheelbase version will arrive in 2002, along with a Kombi. There will be a myriad of bulkhead and sliding door combinations and both diesel and petrol engines.

The passenger seat will fold flat to give an extended load area and a flexible load restraint system will allow customers to add racking systems without the need for drilling into the body. Ford also promises class-leading security systems contributing to low insurance ratings together with safety features such as front and side airbags and antilock brakes.

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