A year ago, Marc Rogowski appeared at the Truck Product Conference as the new brand manager for Ford's E-series, Transit, and Transit Connect. At that time, the United States launch of the Transit seemed so far away.
But now it's nearly here.
“It's very exciting,” he said.
Kansas City Assembly Plant workers will build the full-size Transit van — Europe's best-selling commercial vehicle — when the new product and the Transit Connect joins its North American lineup in 2013. The company has invested $1.1 billion in a new body shop, new tooling in the final assembly area, an upgraded paint shop, and an all-new integrated stamping plant, which will be located on an adjacent property in Liberty, Missouri. A portion of the investment also will be used in the future to support next-generation F-150 pickup production at the plant.
The SUV line at the Kansas City facility, which was idled for re-tooling after the current Escape model was phased out in April, will re-open in 2013. During re-tooling, the plant will continue to build F-150 trucks.
The company also has increased F-150 production at the facility, which started building the trucks on two shifts instead of one beginning in May. This will bring approximately 800 additional employees to the Kansas City Assembly truck line, for a total of approximately 1700 workers.
Ford's current commercial van, the Ford E-Series, is built at the company's Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake, Ohio. Certain E-Series body styles will continue to be available through most of the decade, even after the Kansas City-built Transit goes on sale. The under-10,000 GVW Cutaway E-series completed production over the summer, while the over-10,000 Cutaway and chassis are being produced through the rest of decade.
“The question often comes up: ‘Why are you replacing the E-Series? The vehicle is really an icon in the market. It's been in production for over 50 years. It has a rich history, and our customers love the E-Series. Why are you bringing something from Europe?’” Rogowski said.
“In 2009, 3% of the vehicles sold in the US by Ford were on a global platform. By 2015, that number is going to be 73%. These vehicles will be sold in Europe and North America and markets all across the world. Offerings will be tailored by vocational needs in each region, so you will see variances. The main reason for doing this is that global economies of scale reduces the cost of vehicles.”
Choosing an engine
Subtle exterior changes will highlight the difference between the European and North American versions of the Transit van — a vehicle that will feature Ford's new 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 gasoline engine along with others, as well as an optional diesel powertrain.
The full-size Transit will weigh about 200 pounds less than the E-Series van and should provide up to a 25% improvement in fuel economy versus the E-Series line.
Ford also plans to widen its alternative fuel offerings for all of its truck models as well — including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric, biodiesel, compressed natural gas (CNG), and propane. Ford's entire F-Series Super Duty pickup truck and chassis cab lineup is available with gasoline, diesel, biodiesel B20 and CNG/propane-dedicated or bi-fuel capability, while Ford F-650 and F-750 medium-duty trucks can be optioned for gasoline, biodiesel or CNG/LPG operation. In addition to biodiesel and CNG/propane offerings, the 6.2L V8 can also be operated on E85.
E-Series full-size vans and cutaways are available with flex fuel or CNG/LPG gaseous engine prep package fuel systems upfitted via a Ford supplier.
E-series features for 2013:
• E-350 and 450 Cutaways and strips with the 6.8L engine now have an optional 75 mph speed-limiting option. It’s programmable even after the vehicles have been produced, and can be de-programmed.
• They come standard with three power points, including two on the instrument panel.
• There is a 110-volt, 150-watt A/C power inverter that requires a heavy-duty alternator.
• All cutaway and strip chassis 10,000 GVWR and under have been deleted.
Rogowski provided these tips for improving fuel economy: remove excess weight (250 pounds will reduce fuel usage by 2%); avoid excess idling; proper tire inflation (3% improvement for 1 psi); avoid a loaded roof rack (it reduces fuel economy by 20-25% at highway speeds).
Super Duty news
Changes on the 2013 F-Series Super Duty: increased alternator size on standard 450-550 chassis cab from 155 amps to 175 amps with the 6.8L engine; and a 200-amp extra heavy-duty alternator is optional on 6.2L with Chassis Cabs and pickups (350 models only).
The 2013 F-Series Super Duty offers a first-ever Platinum series model and the addition of SYNC with MyFord Touch. Available only in the Super Duty crew cab, it can be ordered as an F-250, F-350 or F-450 pickup and with the Ford-designed and Ford-built 6.7L Power Stroke diesel engine or the 6.2L V8 gas engine.
The Platinum series serves up heavy helpings of chrome, including chrome tow hooks, door handles, mirror caps, running boards and exhaust tip. The boxside on both sides of the truck sports the “Platinum” name in chrome letters and the tailgate is trimmed with a satin chrome appliqué, similar to the one used on the F-150 Platinum. Twenty-inch polished-aluminum wheels with painted black inserts round out the exterior design.
The interior showcases luxury in the form of unique wood grain appliqués. The steering wheel is heated and leather-wrapped, with genuine wood accents. The instrument panel, center stack and door trims are wrapped in premium wood grain. A new storage area on top of the dash includes two USB ports, audio-video connections, SD card slot and a 12-volt charging port for cell phones and other digital devices.
The driver's seat has 10-way power-adjustable seating and both captain's chairs are upholstered with softer, premium leather, which is also used on the armrests and console.
The F-650/750, which goes into production after January, features a Cummins ISB diesel engine which has received certification from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The 5.9-liter ISB engine is used in trucks, buses, fire trucks, step vans, and other medium-duty applications. The ISB is the second Cummins engine to receive certification to the October 1 standard by EPA. Cummins announced in April that its heavy-duty ISX engine had been certified.
News from special vehicles engineering:
• The single-rear-wheel conditional Cutaway with aft-axle fuel tank is available with the 10,050 GVWR only and won’t have a 9900 GVWR.
• The E-350 single-rear strip chassis is no longer available.
• The dual-rear-wheel Cutaway and strip chassis no longer offer a 10,000 GVWR—strictly 11,500 and 12,500.
• Snowplow capabilities are being reintroduced on the F-150 for the 6.2L engine only.