Ford Transit Ready To Make Inroads In Limo Van Market

Posted on September 16, 2014 by - Also by this author - About the author

Ford displayed a 2015 Transit Van on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014 at Bobit Business Media in Torrance, Calif. This particular model is a low roof version (8 + 2) passengers with a regular 130-in. wheelbase and 10 cubic feet of cargo space. Photo by Tim Crowley/LCT
Ford displayed a 2015 Transit Van on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014 at Bobit Business Media in Torrance, Calif. This particular model is a low roof version (8 + 2) passengers with a regular 130-in. wheelbase and 10 cubic feet of cargo space. Photo by Tim Crowley/LCT

TORRANCE, Calif. — If you were to single out one main point from Ford’s line up of 2015 Transit Vans, it would be that there is something for everyone.

The Ford Transit Van comes in three roof heights, two wheelbase lengths, three body lengths, three types of engines, and four body styles, creating a mix of 58 different configurations spanning commercial, cargo and passenger uses. All configurations became available for shipping to customers in late August.

For the limousine industry, the passenger-version Transits have emerged this year as a key competitor to the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter in the upscale van market. A Ford Transit Van outfitted for shuttle use debuted in February at the International LCT Show in Las Vegas, while the first Transits hit chauffeured fleets last month.

Ford representatives visited with editors of LCT Magazine and companion fleet magazines on Sept. 11 at the headquarters of parent company, Bobit Business Media, in Torrance. Following a presentation, editors got to tour and test a cargo and passenger Transit models.


The Transit line, which started 49 years ago, so far has sales of seven million units worldwide, compared to the eight million E-Series vans sold since that product line started 53 years ago. Ford will keep the E-Series through 2020 but is positioning the Transit as its prime van brand going forward. The Transit’s unibody frame construction includes steel that is four times stronger than that used on the chassis-on-frame built E-Series. The Transit has a payload rating of 4,650 pounds and GVWR of 10,360 pounds.

The Transits are manufactured in Kansas City, Mo., where the plant is surrounded by 214 qualified upfitters within the region. So far, none of the upfitters are certified for official luxury cabin or interior conversions, but Ford is working on lining some up.

With the advance of technology and lighter materials, gone are the eight and 10-cylinder engines of previous vans. The Transit line offers three key engine types: 3.7L, V-6; 3.5L, V-6 Eco-boost, and a 3.2L diesel. Flex-Fuel/E-85, CNG, and LPG engine versions are also available. Despite the fewer cylinders, the Transits put out as much power as a more traditional 4.6L, V-8 engine and 20% to 46% more fuel efficient, depending on engine type.

Of particular interest to limousine operators would be the top-of-the-line Transit Van, a 15-passenger jumbo version with 148-inch wheelbase, a 110-inch roof allowing clearance for a 6-foot, 5-inch person, and an additional three feet of rear body overhang creating a 100 cubic-foot cargo area. The cost of the largest configuration Transit ranges from the low $40,000s to about $55,000 for a fully-loaded one. Smaller Transit Van models can range down to the low $30,000s in pricing, depending on options.

Some interesting Transit facts for limo operators:

  • Transit models command an average 49.5% residual in used vehicle sales after three years.
  • Ford tests and builds its Transit line to have an average service usage life of 10 years.
  • Interior power features are standard on all models.
  • Average maintenance costs for the first three years/45,000 miles are about $1,040 for scheduled maintenance and $4,781 for non-scheduled maintenance.
  • Recessed headlights positioned above bumper collision zones.
  • A Transit diesel traveling from San Diego to Los Angeles averaged about 24 mpg at 50% load level.

Ford Transit Van will be on display at the Greater California Livery Association’s annual Expo & Trade Show on Sept. 23 in Costa Mesa, Calif.

Automotive Fleet Transit article here

LCT Ford Transit Van background articles here:

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