The Ford Transit Connect is a compact panel van developed by Ford Europe and derived from the Ford Focus. The first generation was designed by Peter Horbury and introduced in 2002 to replace the older Ford Escort and Fiesta-based Courier van ranges, which had ceased production in the same year. It has been imported to the North American market since the 2010 model year. In North America, the Transit Connect does not have a direct predecessor; the closest vehicle to its size was the standard-length Ford Aerostar cargo van, which ceased production in 1997.
The Ford Tourneo Connect, a leisure activity vehicle, is a Transit Connect with side windows and rear seats. All Transit Connects bound for the United States are imported in this configuration to avoid the 25% "chicken tax" on imported light trucks. In 2013, US Customs told Ford that they must stop this practice of importing vans disguised as passenger cars.
The Transit Connect was introduced in Europe in October 2002 as the replacement for sedan delivery vans based on the Escort and the Fiesta. Production of the Escort in Europe ceased in 2000 (although the vans carried on for another two years), whilst the Fiesta Courier was also planned to be discontinued when the fifth generation Fiesta entered production in 2002. Ford elected not to develop a direct sedan delivery version of the Focus, instead pursuing a purpose built design.
Sharing few components with the much larger Transit, the Transit Connect was based on the front-wheel drive C170 platform shared with the international Ford Focus, then common with the first generation North American Ford Focus. Rather than adapting an existing bodystyle into a van, the Transit Connect was designed with sliding side doors.
The Escort van and the Fiesta Courier had been assembled at the Halewood and Dagenham plants in England, respectively, but both plants were to cease Ford car production (Halewood was to be handed over to Jaguar, whilst Dagenham was to become an engine plant only), so a new production facility was needed.
The Ford Transit Connect was awarded "Van of the Year 2004" by Professional Van and Light Truck Magazine. In its first year on the North American market, the Transit Connect was awarded "North American Truck of the Year 2010" at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).
Since mid-2009, the Transit Connect has been imported to the United States and Canada. First shown in the United States at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show, the 2010 production model was introduced at the following year's show on 11 February 2009.
The introduction of the North American variant coincided with a mid-cycle facelift which includes a restyled front grille, a deeper front bumper and a new dashboard featuring the switchgear and instrument pod from the C307 Focus.
Initially, only the long-wheelbase version of the van, outfitted with a 2.0L four-cylinder petrol engine and 4 speed 4F27E, was offered in North America; elsewhere, the 1.8L diesel engine and 5 speed manual transmission was the only available powertrain. The 2.0L Duratec DOHC I-4 gasoline engine has 136hp @6300rpm, and 128 lb.-ft. of torque @4750 rpm. It specifies minimum 87 octane gasoline and fuel economy is 21 mpg city/27 mpg hwy and 23 mpg combined.
To build interest and awareness in North America, Transit Connects specifically equipped as "mobile showrooms" were displayed at industrial parks and other venues in 13 U.S. urban areas in May 2009, with the goal of offering 3,000 test drives to small business owners.
With model year 2011, Ford offered the Transit Connect XLT Premium Wagon in the USA and Canada, a passenger version of the van — with seating for five, rear windows that opened for ventilation, blind spot awareness, rear view camera, larger alloy wheels, body-colour grille, and front fog lamps.
In the U.S., the Transit Connect was available in two different trim levels:
XL: Manual windows, manual door locks, cloth seating surfaces, A/M-F/M stereo, two speakers, black-painted steel wheels w/ plastic wheel covers, 2.0L I4 engine, automatic transmission, front-wheel-drive, and air conditioning.
XLT: Power windows, power door locks, four speakers, and exterior-colored accents and bumpers.
For Passenger models, an XLT Premium model was offered, adding these features to the XLT: A/M-F/M stereo with single-disc CD/MP3 player and USB and auxiliary audio input jacks, leather seating surfaces, rear cargo door trim, and enhanced interior sound deadening material. This model appealed very much to families.
The second generation Transit Connect was introduced on 6 September 2012 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. In its first redesign since its 2002 introduction, the 2014 Transit Connect adopts many features of the Kinetic Design language. A major design change is an optional rear liftgate in addition to the double rear doors preferred by people in wheel chairs and delivery companies. The Transit Connect will include the optional new feature called MyKey, a personalized key system. MyKey owner controls let the vehicle owner program different keys to restrict different vehicle features, such as top speed and maximum radio volume.
Aside from Otosan's plant in Turkey, production now also takes place at Valencia, Spain. As before, to avoid the 25% tariff on imported trucks, all cargo vans sold in the United States will be passenger van conversions which will then be re-converted to cargo configuration upon customer demand. Reports have been published that US Customs told Ford that they must stop this practice.
The 2014 Transit Connect is powered by a 2.5 L inline-4, or a 1.6 L EcoBoost turbocharged inline-4. The only transmission type available is the 6-speed 6F-35 automatic. For buyers interested in alternative-fuel vehicles, Ford offers optional hardware allowing for the 2.5L engine to be converted to use CNG or LPG/propane instead of gasoline.
Although it will be sold in the United States, the Tourneo Connect will bear the "Transit Connect Wagon" moniker. Available in two wheelbases and two roof heights, and with a choice of 5 or 7-passenger seating. The latter configuration is the first 7-passenger minivan sold by Ford since the 2007 discontinuation of the Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey.
It is available in three models:
XL: 2.5L I4 engine, 6-speed 6F-35 automatic transmission, front-wheel-drive, A/M-F/M stereo with auxiliary audio input jack, two speakers (four speakers for Passenger model), vinyl seating surfaces, manual windows, manual door locks, and sixteen-inch black-painted steel wheels w/ plastic wheel covers. The XL is actually slotted above the XLT in price on the Passenger model.
XLT adds: A/M-F/M stereo with HD Radio, USB and auxiliary audio input jacks and four speakers (Cargo model) or six speakers (Passenger model), Ford SYNC, power windows, and power door locks. The XLT is actually slotted below the XL in price on the Passenger model.
Titanium, for Passenger model only adds: A/M-F/M stereo with HD Radio, single-disc CD/MP3 player, rear backup camera, USB and auxiliary audio input jacks, leather seating surfaces, third-row seating, keyless entry and security system, increased interior sound deadening and interior panels, and sixteen-inch alloy wheels (upgradeable to seventeen-inch alloy wheels), as well as exterior-colored bumpers and exterior accents. This is the top-of-the-line Transit Connect model for the Passenger model, and is only available for the Passenger model.
In 2017, Ford recalled 2013-2015 Ford Transit Connect with 1.6 ecoboost engines because of a risk of engine fires caused by a “lack of coolant circulation”. The recall partly contributed to a charge of US$300 million by Ford.
2.5 L 2014 Ford Transit Connect Cargo have est. MPG(City): 22 mpg‑imp (13 L/100 km), MPG(Highway): 34 mpg‑imp (8.3 L/100 km), 0–60 time: 9.5 sec. and top speed of 108 miles per hour (174 km/h).
Ford imports all Transit Connects as passenger vehicles with rear windows, rear seats, and rear seat-belts to circumvent the 25% tariff on imported light trucks. The vehicles are exported from Turkey on cargo ships owned by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, arrive in Baltimore, and are converted into commercial vehicles at WWL Vehicle Services Americas Inc. facility: rear windows are replaced with metal panels and rear seats removed (except on wagons). The removed parts are recycled.
The process exploited a perceived loophole in the customs definition of a commercial vehicle. As cargo does not need seats with seat belts or rear windows, presence of those items exempts the vehicle from commercial vehicle status. The conversion cost Ford hundreds of dollars per van but saved thousands over having to pay the tax.
Partly because of this, only the long-wheelbase, high-roof configuration is exported to North America. In most places the high-roof Transit Connect, like most Ford Econoline vans, is unable to access multi-story parking because of its height of 1.98 m (6′ 6″).
As of January 2013, the loophole no longer works and Ford has to pay the 25% tax. They are, however, still imported as passenger vans and converted after importation.
On 18 March 2010, Canada Post and Ford Motor Company announced that Canada Post would purchase a fleet of Ford Transit Connect vans to replace their aging fleet of Grumman LLV vehicles. Right-hand-drive tooling already existed for the versions sold in RHD markets, likely contributing to the model's selection.
The Transit Connect was one of three finalists (alongside the Karsan V-1 and the winner Nissan NV200) for New York City's Taxi of Tomorrow. The winning model was announced in early May 2011 and was awarded a 10-year contract to serve the city exclusively. In spite of losing out to the NV200 in New York City, Ford markets the Transit Connect Wagon as a taxicab replacement for the now-discontinued Crown Victoria LWB in both New York City and other North American municipalities. Modifications for taxi use include a rearward-mounted 2nd-row seat, rear-seat controls for the air conditioning, and the option of school bus yellow paint.
At the 2009 Chicago Auto Show, Ford confirmed development of a battery-powered version of the Transit Connect. Later at the Geneva Auto Show the same year, Ford showed a prototype electric version of the Ford Tourneo Connect passenger van, which is closely related to the Ford Transit Connect. Ford originally announced Smith Electric Vehicles would install the electric drivetrains and lithium-ion battery packs in the vehicles, but they later partnered with Azure Dynamics Corporation instead, with Johnson Controls-Saft as the battery supplier.
Production of the Transit Connect Electric began in December 2010, and Azure Dynamics is the official manufacturer of record. The official US Environmental Protection Agency range is 56 mi (90 km) and has a combined city/highway fuel economy rating of 62 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent (3.8 L/100 km equivalent) based on the five-cycle tests using varying driving conditions and climate controls. The electric van costs US$57,400, which more than doubles the price of the gas-powered version even after federal and any state or local incentives for electric vehicles is discounted.
The Ford Transit Connect X-press is a much faster version of the Ford Transit Connect. It was created by a team of Ford engineers using the 212BHP engine from the Ford Focus RS as shown on Fifth Gear.
The Ford Tourneo Connect is a leisure activity vehicle produced by Ford, which was first put into production in 2002 to the British market. Much like the Tourneo is a passenger version of the Transit, the Tourneo Connect was designed with rear windows and seats. Principally termed a commercial vehicle, Ford predicted relatively low sales of between 800–1000 mainly to taxi operators, due to its given status as a commercial vehicle. However, Ford described the Connect as a 'dual use' vehicle, equally able to meet business and leisure needs. It was put into production to rival the similar models of the Citroën Berlingo, Peugeot Partner, Volkswagen Caddy, Fiat Doblò and the Opel/Vauxhall Combo Tour.
The Connect, when first sold, was the only vehicle of its kind to offer folding and separately removable 60/40 split rear seats that allowed multiple seating formations and increased load capacity. It also boasted the option of twin sliding side load doors as well as rear doors or a tailgate, whereas neither of its main competitors have this option. The Connect's design emphasizes Ford's ideal that the vehicle be multipurpose.
Ford presented the Ford Tourneo Connect battery electric concept vehicle at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show. It features a 21 kWh lithium iron phosphate battery pack, a 50 kW permanent magnet motor, and a single-speed transmission, for a range of up to 160 kilometres (99 mi) and top speed of about 113 kilometres per hour (70 mph). Its BEV technology was developed in collaboration with Smith Electric Vehicles.
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