The Ford Transit van has been around in some form since it debuted in the United Kingdom in 1965. Ford brought the venerable van to North America in 2014 (for the 2015 model-year), and it is now the world’s best-selling cargo van.
Transit, the top choice for mobile businesses, service fleets, delivery fleets, and so much more, is getting a slew of updates for the 2020 model-year.
Transit Fits Any Fleet Size
Ford has seen an increase in sales of its Transit van — already America’s top seller, according to the automaker — as small business owners rethink traditional models of operation with the rise of an on-demand economy.
“Transit has seen a 5.3% uptick in sales for fleets ranging in size from one to five vans,” said Cary Shapiro, brand manager for Transit and Transit Connect at Ford Motor Co. “The added connectivity, configuration options, and available driver-assist features in the 2020 Transit provide owner/operators even more reasons to go mobile.”
And many small businesses are heeding that call, utilizing the Ford Transit for mobile business operations across the U.S.
“These small businesses are adding on-site services or going exclusively mobile for the benefit of lower overhead costs and more personalized experience,” Shapiro said.
But is this trend here to stay? Highly likely due to the experience they create.
“This trend sits right at the intersection of craft and convenience,” said Sheryl Connelly, Ford’s chief futurist. “We are used to clicking a button and getting something shipped to you, but now we’re quickly moving into ‘click a button and get a service or get a custom experience.’ We all saw this start with the food truck trend, but as we shift away from commodity purchasing and toward personalized retail experiences, we’re seeking a more meaningful connection with brands — one that turns commonplace transactions into memorable moments. So being able to build out a van to suit that experience is a new way to imagine a brand.”
But, it’s not just the smaller fleets that are turning toward the Transit. Ford’s market-share-leading lineup of commercial vans reported record third-quarter sales of Transit, Transit Connect, and E-Series, resulting in 65,288 vans sold.
“Our uptick in sales is due, in large part, to the growing transportation needs of one of the top fleet purchasing segments — delivery,” Shapiro explained. “Ford Transit offers ergonomic solutions for industries that frequently have to step in and out of their commercial vehicle. With a low cab-to-ground clearance and the highest available interior cargo heights in it’s class, Transit is a perfect solution for delivery fleets.”
One fleet that utilizes the Transit is Safelite AutoGlass. Specializing in vehicle glass repair, replacement, and calibration services, the Ford Transit fits their needs.
“Safelite is very excited about the new features and functions of the 2020 Transits. Most importantly, we are excited about the ADAS features such as adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, 8-inch display, and more. Other upgrades such as the 10-speed transmission, auto start/stop technology, and improved factory tires improve drivability and efficiency over the van’s life,” noted Erin Gilchrist, director of fleet for Safelite.
The Transit van’s upfit-friendliness is also noted by vehicle modifiers and upfitters, such as VanDOit Multipurpose Vans. The vehicle modifier specializes in converting, selling, and leasing Ford Transit camper vans.
“When Ford made the significant updates to the 2020 Transit, it is easy to see they listened to their buyers and made the 2020 Transit easily converted or modified to suit the needs of the end-user,” says Brent Kline, owner of VanDOit. “From service vans to vans altered for mobile businesses of all types, we have noticed all the details Ford took into consideration when building the 2020 Transit, which makes altering the van from a commercial or work perspective so much better.”
And, according to Shapiro, the crew van is an enhancement to the 2020 Ford Transit family based on customer feedback, tailored for owners who need to move larger crews plus gear to a job site, including three-across second-row seating.
Powered for Fleets
Ford Transit is significantly updated for 2020, becoming even more capable and more comfortable to drive.
New and improved powertrains are designed to meet a wide range of fleet needs. These include an all-new standard 3.5L PFDI V-6 gasoline engine and 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 gas engine that now features Auto Start-Stop.
Both gas engines are paired with Ford’s proven 10-speed automatic transmission.
The 3.5L V-6 achieves 275 hp and 262 lb.-ft. of torque, while the 3.5L EcoBoost achieves 306 hp at 400 lb.-ft. of torque.
And all this power means these vans can haul. The up to 11,000-pound GVWR Transit features a payload of up to 6,400 pounds and max towing of 7,500 pounds.
Additionally, Transit offers 78 configurations, the most vehicle configurations in its class, according to Ford, to help ensure its possible to spec the right van for any job.
For the first time, Transit offers an intelligent all-wheel-drive (AWD) system that’s always on and does not raise the load floor or seat height, making this van configuration as easy to enter and exit as the standard rear-wheel-drive (RWD) model.
“Transit already has the most configurations in its class and multiple options for roof heights and wheelbases, but 2020-MY Transit takes the bar even higher introducing intelligent all-wheel drive for customers who need their business to go wherever they do,” Shapiro explained.
New Ford Telematics and Ford Data Services, which put an array of tools at the disposal of fleet managers to improve uptime and decrease downtime, are now available along with standard embedded modems equipped with 4G LTE Wi-Fi with connectivity for up to 10 devices.
New standard driver-assist features include pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, forward-collision warning, post-collision braking, lane-keeping system, and auto high-beam headlamps.
“Transit’s standard and optional driver assist technologies such as automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, and blind spot indication system are a breakthrough in maximizing the safety of drivers, passengers, and other road users,” said Ray Eyles, chief program engineer for Transit North America.
Additional available features include adaptive cruise control, front and rear split-view cameras, and adjustable speed limiting. Enhanced active park assist simplifies maneuvering into parallel or reverse-perpendicular parking spots.
“Exterior updates are subtle but functionally driven,” Shapiro said. “A new, power sliding door is available for the cargo van and passenger van, while premium high-intensity discharge headlamps with signature LED surround are available.”
Vans equipped with the powerful 3.5L EcoBoost engine get a larger grille for maximum cooling. Grab handles are improved, vents are updated to better direct heated and cooled air, and overall ergonomics are enhanced.
Optional swivel front seats are available for the first time in response to recreational vehicle customer requests.
The center stack can also be optioned two ways — with a standard 4-inch full-color multifunction display or an 8-inch slim-line touch-screen display, each with the latest in SYNC 3 plus Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.
Finally, available new wheels include a 16-inch heavy-duty silver design with black hubcaps, a 16-inch heavy-duty silver steel wheel design, 16-inch forged aluminum wheels, and 16-inch heavy-duty forged aluminum wheels for durability and style.