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Sleeper of the Year – Ford Transit Connect?

With some bold moves, TC could be bigger than Ford envisions.

by on Jun.08, 2010

Automotive press have largely ignored, or been ignorant of, this relatively little-on-the-outside, big-on-the-inside vehicle’s potential.

Since last winter, when the imported Ford Transit Connect small delivery van was proclaimed as the 2010 North American Truck of the Year, little has been heard about it as a mainstream product.

Yes, Ford announced Natural Gas and Electric versions of the TC, which got attention as part of the “Green movement.” Announcements of a TC taxicab version have, unfortunately, generated ho-hum, who cares media responses.

The American world and its automotive press have largely ignored, or been ignorant of, this relatively little-on-the-outside, big-on-the-inside vehicle’s potential to sweep the country as tomorrow’s commercial vehicle. In plain language, the TC is a city delivery van, a replacement for yesteryear’s panel delivery trucks and, eventually, today’s big box vans like the Ford Econoline and Chevy Express.

Ford and its dealers will reap a bonanza with the TC. None of the competition, domestic or import, appears to have anything like it up their sleeves for the near future, although Chrysler through its Fiat product pipeline could present a formidable challenge with the Fiat Fiorino Qubo. (See First Look: Renault Kangoo TomTom) Whether Fiat can out market Ford given its U.S. history is debatable, and for once Jeep, Dodge and/or Chrysler badges could help.

Furthermore, Ford marketing folks don’t think the TC will cut into sales anytime soon of the Ford Econoline E-150 vans, long the king of such vehicles on North American roads. E-series U.S. van sales so far this year (through May) totaled 32,376 plus another 13,140 E-series Club Wagons, compared to a combined total of Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana sales of 27,114.  Many E-series, mostly the higher capacity E-250 and E-350 versions, power airport shuttle buses and motor homes. Ford’s E-series have long been a big money-maker, though mostly ignored by the motor media.

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