When Henry Ford opened the Ford Motor Company (England) Ltd., in Brentwood, Essex at the dawn of the twentieth century he likely couldn’t have conceived that a little over a century later a British designed Ford Transit Van platform would be making its production debut in the North American market. Whilst purists and protectionists might rue the arrival of the European Ford Transit Van platform on U.S. shores, future recreational vehicle owners should be jumping for joy following Tuesday’s unveiling of the all-new Transit Van chassis cab and cutaway models by the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan.
The new Ford Transit Van -- a replacement for Ford’s North American E-Series platform -- has come a long way since the introduction of the Mark 1 Transit in Great Britain back in October, 1965. The latest RWD chassis cab and cutaway -- which comes in three wheelbases (138, 156 or 178 inches) and a GVWR of 9,000-10,360 pounds -- will be offered with either a 3.7-liter V6 or a 3.2-liter Power Stroke Diesel engine, both of which are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Whilst the European recreational vehicle market is currently dominated by Fiat’s Ducato chassis (to be launched in the U.S. in Q3 as the Ram ProMaster) both Ford -- with its Transit platform -- and Mercedes-Benz -- with its Sprinter chassis -- are key players in the recreational vehicle market in Europe.
Mercedes-Benz has, of course, offered their robust Sprinter platform in North America since 2002 and the chassis has been used to great effect by a number of motorhome coach builders including Leisure Travel Vans, Roadtrek and Thor’s Airstream Inc., but clearly the arrival of additional lightweight and fuel efficient RV platforms will help drive down the cost of RV ownership and spur further innovations in both design and construction.
Whilst a reduction in potential operating costs will clearly appeal to future RV owners it will also have the added benefit of making RV ownership more affordable to a wider cross-section of the general public. More affordable means more potential RV sales and that is something that should have the RV manufacturers jumping for joy as well.