65 Years of The Ford Transit – The UKs Most Popular Van
The Ford Transit has been part of British heritage for almost sixty years but, how did it evolve into what it is today and what might we expect to see in its future? Fulton Leasing, one of the most established vehicle finance business in the country explores the ghost of transit past, the ghost of transit present, and the ghost of transit yet to come.
Ford Taunus Transit 1953 – 1965
We often think of the birth of the transit van as having happened in 1965, when the "First Generation" as we know it rolled off the British production line. Before that however, came the Taunus Transit. Produced in Ford's Koln plant in Germany, the Taunus was the first Ford van to officially be christened a "Transit" and looked very much like it had been receiving style tips from an early VW Transporter.
First Generation Transit / Transit Mark I (1965 -1978)
The German built Taunus Transit wasn't widely exported, which is why the First Generation title is commonly applied to the 1965 British produced model.
The Transit Mark I boasted a compact front-engine layout to accommodate a two-pallet load, a winning formula which was widely copied by other manufacturers. Fast-forward almost fifty years later, and the bones of the design remain largely the same.
The Transit Custom 2013 – Present
Shifting over 100k units each year since it's 2013 introduction, the Transit Custom has undergone a range of transformations even in its own short lifetime.
At the start of 2017, Ford upgraded the Transit Custom’s regular engine to a 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel, providing higher torque and improved economy.
From 2018 however, the van will get yet another makeover, this time including an updated Econetic variant that Ford claims will further cut CO2 emissions and increase range efficiency. As well as making it more economical, the Ford team has also made it safer, and let's be honest, cooler.
The Electric Revolution - 2018 and Beyond
Electric vans are going to play a pivotal role in the development of the UK van and commercial vehicle market as it evolves. As it stands, in Europe, less than 5% of vehicles are commercial vehicles or heavy-duty trucks, yet they contribute almost 20% of greenhouse gas emissions.
While electric vans represent a very small percentage of overall Light Commercial Vehicle sales at the moment, as concern about sustainability and the environment grows, businesses will be expected to act.
Ford have announced that from 2019, the Transit Custom will be available as a plug-in hybrid, meaning the van can run on electric power only. Figures are yet to be released regarding range or economy, but prototypes are already undergoing testing in the capital.
So while the future of the transit van is clearly electric – its beating heart lies in what it is transiting. From 1953 to the present day and beyond, whether the van is made in Germany or the UK, whether the van is petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric, the transit van belongs to the transit van man, and that is why its enduring appeal will continue to endure while other vehicles fall by the wayside.