One of the most economical small business cargo haulers available in Europe may become the best small business solution in the US.
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG
- June 29, 2009
2010 Ford Transit Connect – 22 mpgUS city/25 mpgUS highway on the 08 EPA.
In late 2002, a new Ford work van was introduced to (and soon recognized as one of the best available in) the European market. Due in large part to its excellent utility and low cost of ownership, over 600,000 units have been sold in 55 countries across 3 continents. Sporting an impressive reputation for durability earned in the small business marketplace overseas, North America availability is cause for celebration.
“This workhorse is like nothing available today in the American market,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president of Global Product Development. “We’re offering small business owners a real choice to meet their needs, instead of asking them to pull seats out of minivans or compromise on one or more of their needs. Transit Connect is good news for small business owners nationwide.”
In a refreshing departure from the industry norm, Ford asked three small businesses in the Chicago area to give unbiased opinions of the van during its media launch. Their response to the provided evaluation units was overwhelmingly positive with enthusiastic descriptions of how the vehicle is able to meet the needs of each company. Each indicated that not only is the Transit Connect extremely capable and far more efficient than the minivans and full sized trucks currently in service, it has earned a top position on their respective vehicle purchase lists for replacements or fleet additions. The ringing endorsements were obviously sincere and provided excellent examples of just how useful this new Ford can actually be for small businesses in America.
2010 Ford Transit Connect - Basic Features
- 135 cubic feet of cargo volume -- no other vehicle in the American market can deliver a competitive combination of fuel economy and capacity.
- Split rear cargo doors are standard and open to 180 degrees, or an optionally available 225 degrees. When open, these doors provide access to a generous 52.1 inches of available load height.
- Lift-over height is less than two feet even when the vehicle is unloaded.
- Cargo payload of 1,600 pounds.
- Power-assisted rack and pinion steering allows for a 39-foot curb-to-curb turning circle, ensuring easy maneuverability in tight quarters.
2010 Ford Transit Connect - Competitive Comparisons
2010 Ford Transit Connect - Specifications and Trim Levels
|Make||Model||Cargo Capacity (cu. ft.)||Base Cost||MPG Combined (mpgUS)|
|Dodge||Sprinter||371||$38,425||~ 20 |
The 2010 Ford Transit Connects specifications can be viewed in the automobile specifications forum
at the following location: 2010 Ford Transit Connect
The Transit Connect is available as either a 5-passenger Wagon or a two passenger work Van in two trim levels: XL and XLT. Both can be equipped with Navigation.
Ford Work Solutions - Productivity enhancing options
The $1,395 Garmin based NAVI head unit offers much more than just navigation functionality. The system features web browsing capability, E-Mail, spreadsheet/document viewing and editing, remote desktop capability, and even the ability to print out invoices on site (with a $300 Bluetooth HP Printer). Input is accomplished with either the built in touch screen or an included Bluetooth keyboard. This is a compelling and high tech package offering four times as much as the typical vehicle navigation system for a much lower price.
- Optional Crew Chief™ ($550 plus $20 per month) - Allows fleet managers to track vehicles and staff via online access to vehicle location, speed, idle time, fuel usage, seat belt use and more than 30 other diagnostic measures -- all online!
- Optional Tool Link ($1,220) - Utilizes Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags (which are adhered to the tools or objects themselves) and is capable of performing an inventory of items in the cargo hold prior to leaving a job site.
- Bulkheads, racks, bins, and other fitments can be mixed, matched, and configured to suit many specific commercial applications and needs.
CrewChief in action
Status and location of all the Ford Transit Connects at the Preview with CrewChief installed.
Best in Class tool tracking technology - DeWalt’s ToolLink
Tool Box within the van shows the Tool Box found.
Tool Box outside the Van shows the Tool Box is not found.
RFID tags go for about $1.00 a piece and you have the option to configure multiple lists of objects. For example, one could create a camping list, a work list, a painting list, etc. All lists can easily be added to using the touch screen or included Bluetooth keyboard.
Once an RFID tagged tool list is created, ToolLink works seamlessly.
2010 Ford Transit Connect - Many optional upfits are available
Various configurations from three different Ford approved upfitters are available, though any upfitter can modify the Transit Connect to suit the needs of just about any small business.
Catering and Delivery Graphic wrapped Exterior/Caterer Shelving upfitted Interior
2010 Ford Transit Connect case studies: The small business owner
- 645 W. North Ave. Chicago, IL 60610
Marcello’s is a large and growing Chicago area restaurant that runs a growing number of restaurants around the city. Its 17yr young catering business has quickly become one of its largest profit generators. With 12 vehicles including 5 vans and a 16’ box truck currently in its fleet, Marcello’s is looking for a more versatile vehicle providing not only additional utility but also the best fuel efficiency possible. On any given weekend, Marcello’s delivers between 1,000 and 1,500 orders ranging from individual pizzas to 2,000 person meals for corporate events. Their workload is heavy and their needs are large and varied.
“Although the Transit Connect would not meet all of our needs given the quantity of food and associated gear we sometimes deliver to a single location, it would work for at least 50 percent of our business,” said Jim Lazar, VP of the Restaurant, Catering and Bakery concerns. “Additionally, the Transit Connect's available GPS and WorkChief vehicle location capability would be a wonderful addition for our business.”
Jayson’s Home and Garden
- 1885 N Clybourn, Chicago IL 60614
Jayson’s is run by Jay Goltz, an entrepreneur of some notoriety. Drawing on his small business expertise, he writes and manages the NY Times You’re the Boss – The art of running a small business
The company employs 105 people and has recently expanded from its art and framing business roots into the furniture, home decor, garden plants, and floral design markets. As the organization has grown, so has its need for reliable and efficient delivery vehicles.
“Currently we use four vans, one truck, and three SUVs,” said Jay Goltz, the founder of Jays Home and Garden. “Our future needs must include a more fuel efficient vehicle with easier access and a professional look with a graphic wrap vs. a minivan. The Transit Connect easily fulfills those needs.”
Sappano’s Hi Grade Paint and Decorating Center
- 2940 N. Halsted, Chicago, IL 60657
Sappano’s is a third generation retail and commercial supply concern specializing in paint, wallpaper and window treatments. With over 62 years in the business, they recently expanded with the purchase of Sappano’s paint and now have 25 employees in two stores.
“We still need large vans for delivering 200 to 300 gallons of paint in a single load but smaller jobs from 1-gallon to 100, the Transit Connect would work wonderfully,” said Josh Goldmeir, owner of the Paint and Supply business. “If I were to purchase a new delivery vehicle today, I would have to compare other manufacturers selections to the Transit Connect because big vans downtown are a nightmare to park and horribly inefficient.”
Ford's willingness to allow these three business owners to voice honest appraisals of the vehicle without any payment or promises says volumes about their commitment to this market. Moreover, the responses leave no doubt that this is a vehicle destined for significant future sales success.
2010 Ford Transit Connect - Impressions, FE Capability and Conclusions
The 2010 Ford Transit Connect is not a 4x4, SUV or P/U but is
a fully capable commercial work van. This vehicle will satisfy the needs of some 75% of all small business requirements at a far lower purchase and fuel cost than other solutions... in most cases saving anywhere from tens to thousands of gallons of fuel per vehicle per year. Additional cargo capacity allows fewer trips, smaller size promises easier parking, and dual sliding doors with swing out rear doors allow easy access to interior storage. The Transit Connect is quite simply the most fuel efficient small van platform available to business owners.
The Transit Connect offers a comfortable interior with tilt and telescopic steering wheel as well as seats with height adjustment controls. Rear seating for the Wagon features easy access/egress with dual-side sliding doors and more leg room than most vehicles -- including the majority of full-size sedans! We found nothing to dislike in this area.
The Transit Connect has a far tighter turning radius than any other van we have driven -- amply demonstrated on the impromptu obstacle course seen below. Each participant in the event had the opportunity to drive this course and experience the van's attributes first hand.
Ford’s Transit Connect on the course adding perspective. Only one driver of four knocked a cone down (it wasn’t me
) -- and this was an exceedingly tight course!
To further demonstrate its competence at load capacity, Ford filled a Transit Connect with 1,600 pounds of sand for this Preview. With four in the vehicle in addition to the sand, the 2.0L engine drove easily from stop light to stop light without incident or undue strain on the chassis or engine.
One small item that does not appear to fit Ford’s standard for look and feel is the navigation system's bezel. The bezel appears to be an add-on with the std. dash having one texture, the center mounted instruments having another, and the Navi bezel having yet another. These vehicles are still prototypes so we can't assume it will remain so in the final production units, but it does look oddly out of place in a modern OEM vehicle.
FE Results... with explanation
Best at 22.7 and the worst at 11.3 mpgUS
These poor results were achieved in stop light/sign to stop light/sign mid-day driving (with A/C!) through the worst that downtown Chicago had to offer. The first segment included approximately one mile on I-90/94... which was also a jammed in stop and crawl. Total distance for that trip was approximately 3 miles. The second segment was similar and covered roughly 2 miles.
Basic and Intermediate techniques were employed to achieve these results. These consisted of two Fas at lights for the first trip, and 4 Fas at lights for the second. In that kind of traffic it was abundantly clear that in order for small businesses to avoid the waste and costs associated with inner city delivery using conventional vehicles, all-electric solutions will have to be adopted.
Very few new details on the Smith Bev conversion have been released but it is currently being prototyped in England. When Bev conversion production begins in the states, the full base vehicle will be delivered to a Kansas City facility. There, the Transit Connect will have the engine and all associated hardware from the gas tank to emissions controls removed. In there place a single speed electric motor, Inverter/controller, and 21 or 28 kWh Li-Ion battery pack will be installed. The pack appears to be a prismatic unit that will form a flat structure under the cargo area subfloor. Since this is a conversion of a fully DOT certified vehicle instead of being built alongside the std. gasoline and diesel powered counterparts (in Kocaeli, Turkey), expect the Bev variant's cost to be quite high.
The std. Transit Connect is being shipped as this is written and the first units should reach dealership showrooms sometime between mid July and early August.
BEV variant on the road.----------------------------------------------
Std. ICE variant on the docks.
2010 Ford Transit Connect Preview - Behind the Scenes
I would like to thank Ford’s Vehicle Line Director of Truck, SUV and Commercial Vehicles, Phil Collareno who answered and/or tried to find the proper person to answer every question I had... including many regarding the upcoming BEVs. I would also like to thank Jay Goltz, Jim Lazar, and Josh Goldmeir for their small business impressions... and of course Ford’s Anne Marie Gattari and Donna Thomas for the invite to this unique for CleanMPG preview.
Phil Collareno next to the 2010 Transit Connect
A slideshow of the entire grouping of 2010 Ford Transit Connect pics can be seen at the following location: Transit Connect Interior and Exterior