The shift from steel to aluminum has the new Ford F-150 pickup becoming the talk of the auto industry. While such move was considered a high stake for Ford, it is not the gamble the US carmaker is making. Ford is also replacing its body-on-frame E series, which has been the market leader and a profit-generator for nearly three decades, with the Transit van family.
In fact, Ford is already rolling out its 2014 Transit Connect Van and Wagon to dealerships and will start selling the full-sized 2015 Transit commercial van this summer. The Transit is a family of unibody commercial van designed in Europe and adapted for the United States. They will be powered by choices between two V-6 engines and a five-cylinder diesel powerplant. Both the Transit and the aluminum F-150 are replacing proven market leaders.
Ford has sold over 7 million Transits in 119 markets since it was launched in 1979. In the US, meanwhile, Ford's commercial and large passenger van business has been dominated by the E series since Richard Nixon was president.
In 2013, Ford sold 125,356 E-series vehicles -- 102,705 cargo vans and 22,651 Club Wagons for passengers, allowing it to control 48 percent of the full-sized van market.
"Many people have asked me, with E series being so successful, why are we making a change," says Minyang Jiang, brand manager for the Transit, Transit Connect and E series. The answers are diverse and one of them is Alan Mulally's One Ford plan, which entails consolidating offerings around the globe onto a few common platforms – something that Transit perfectly fits into. [source: automotive news - sub. required]