It's nearly the end of an era for Ford's E-Series work van, the trusty steed of plumbers, electricians and painters for more than 50 years.
As the sunset approaches on the E-Series, Ford says it will offer its replacement, the rear-wheel-drive Transit, with a 3.5-liter, direct-injection, EcoBoost V-6 engine.
The EcoBoost V-6 has become a popular option for the Ford F-150 since the pickup truck's redesign last year. So far, Ford has sold more than 125,000 examples of the twin-turbocharged engines in the truck, promising the power of a V-8 with the fuel economy of a V-6.
"This engine has revolutionized the half-ton pickup segment for F-150, and we're expecting it will have the same effect on commercial vans," says Tim Stoehr, Ford's commercial truck marketing manager. "This is a real workhorse type motor," adds Rob Stevens, the company's chief engineer of commercial vehicles.
Announced at this year's Work Truck Show in Indianapolis, Ford did not offer other details on the EcoBoost-equipped Transit other to say that it has been busy field-testing the European-style van for the North American market. It expects the unibody van, which weighs 300 lb lighter than the body-on-frame E-Series, to achieve a 25% improvement in fuel economy over the outgoing lineup.
Formerly known as the Econoline, the E-Series will be gradually phased out starting in 2013, when the full-size Transit van begins domestic production at Ford's truck plant in Claycomo, Mo., near Kansas City. The manufacturer is spending $1.1 billion to retool the plant for the launch. The Transit follows other European-style vans, such as the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, that have gained traction in North America in the past decade.
At that time, Transit will become Ford's global commercial van. More than six million have been sold since its introduction in 1965. Since around the same time, Ford has sold more than eight million E-Series vans. Ford says it will continue to offer E-Series cutaways and chassis for special use.