Ford launches global light CV platform at Geneva

  • 14-Mar-2012 05:13 EDT

Front-wheel-drive variants are not destined for North America, but the design shows the face of the replacement for the Econoline. (Headlineauto)

While the focus on the Ford stand at Geneva was firmly on the B-Max, another Ford global first also made its debut at the show. Back in the late '90s, Ford shipped its Transit light commercial vehicle (CV) project team out from its bases in Europe to the U.S. to finish off what was due to be the company’s first global light CV, under project leader Martin Leach. When the vehicle made its debut in 2000, it did not reach North America, although the current Transit is on sale in 73 countries including South America, China, Australia, and Japan.

This time it’s different, thanks in part to the One Ford project. The new model will replace the existing Tourneo and Transit and the long-running E-Series Econoline in North America.

Ford is following the same basic principles for the new model as for the 2000 Transit in that the same design theme incorporates front- and rear-wheel-drive models. It was the front-wheel-drive variant that was previewed in Geneva, in the shape of the passenger-carrying Tourneo Custom Concept.

Barry Gale, Ford of Europe Chief Engineer for Commercial Vehicles, told AEI about the new model: “This vehicle is manufactured in Turkey and will be sold throughout Europe and exported to other countries.” But the front-wheel-drive platform is not destined for North America, which will take a rear-wheel-drive model, powered by the V6 gasoline engine from the F-150 pickup truck.

The new front-drive Tourneo and Transit will be powered by the current Euro-5, 2.2-L Duratorq common-rail, direct-injection turbodiesels. Tourneo will use a 155-hp (116-kW) variant, while 100- and 125-hp (75- and 93-kW) versions will be available for the Transit. All will be equipped with automatic engine stop-start as standard equipment. The engine will be paired with the same six-speed manual transmission that is currently in use.

“Underneath, all of the platform is new, but many of the fundamentals are the same, some of the positionings and equally the commonality,” continued Gale. “The carryover is actually more from some of the other car lines, like the Sync [audio] system and things like lane-departure cameras.

“As soon as design came up with some of the sketches, I recognized that we could make a great personal-use vehicle either for large families or executive transport. So very early on, we made that connection and that drove us to have a good quality interior and flexible seating that have always been a bit secondary on Transit.

“Probably the harder challenge was making this into a great commercial van as well,” he continued. “The challenge for me and the engineering team was working in parallel with design to have great design and great function. Although in many ways it’s a much smaller looking vehicle than the smallest Transit today, it actually can carry more.”

Safety features will include driver assistance systems such as lane departure warning, a rearview camera, and more passive systems such as airbags.

“The other development I think you will see more of this year is Euro-NCAP,” said Gale. “There has never been a Euro-NCAP for this sort of vehicle, and we’ve been working very closely with the authorities in helping to define an NCAP standard. We’re very optimistic that towards the end of the year, we’re going to have some good news on NCAP and a new development for this sort of vehicle.”

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