Is Ford Readying a Plug-in People Mover?


Yesterday Ford announced a new vehicle in its lineup called the Transit Connect Wagon.

It is based on the current Transit Connect cargo van except the new vehicle is designed to carry people rather than cargo.

It is a modern new riff on the minivan that Ford President Mark Fields says “gives young families and people on the go the fun-to-drive and efficient vehicle they’ve been looking for.”

“It’s an all-new, smaller seven-seater that has better mileage than larger vans and creates a segment of its own. Customers also will love the unique combination of style, adaptability and affordability this wagon brings,” Fields adds.

The vehicle is available in two different wheelbases, one with 5 seats and the longer with 7 seats.

The vehicle is smaller and lighter than traditional vans and can come equipped with Ford’s highly efficient 1.6-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine.  That combination says Ford will lead to better than 30 mpg in highway driving. “This powertrain makes Transit Connect Wagon the gas mileage leader among seven-passenger vehicles,” says Ford.

Where this gets even more interesting is the fact that Ford had sold (through now banktupt Azure Dynamics) a pure electric Transit Connect EV, which first went to market in 2010.  That vehicle provides 80 miles of driving range from a 28 kwh lithium battery, for $60,000.

It therefore is not much of a leap to suspect Ford may be readying an Energi version of this vehicle as well.  With the crossover C-Max Energi already on sale, and the Fusion sedan Energi coming next year, Ford could easily be prepared from an engineering and assembly perspective to offer a Transit Connect Energi later next year or 2014.

Considering the fuel efficiency, a 20 mile EV range with a near 40 hybrid mode mpg is not out of the question.

I have long been advocating for an automaker to create a practical plugin 7-seater for large families, and for the first time can see the possibility on the horizon.  I asked Ford EV spokesperson Wes Sherwood about this.

“We always are looking at options to build on our fuel economy leadership,” he says. “But cannot discuss future product plans.”

Category: Ford


8 responses to "Is Ford Readying a Plug-in People Mover?"
  1. Boyd says:

    I love the idea. I wonder if they can make it a little less ugly.

  2. GeorgeS says:

    hmmm I wonder if the C max energy power train would work as is.

    It might not be powerful enough.

    but nevertheless this is a good idea!

  3. ClarksonCote says:

    There’s a Brian on here that always posts about wanting a 7 seat EV as well. He will be pleased to read this speculative piece. 😉

    1. Brian says:

      The day is mine!

    2. bitguru says:

      I am a Brian who wants a 6/7-seat hybrid or plug-in hybrid, but I don’t think I’m the one you are talking about.

      If I hybrid/PHV TransitConnect appears I will seriously consider it, but I’m not holding my breath.

  4. James says:

    Toyota Estima = 3 generations of hybrid midsize minivan sold in Japan
    Toyota says it won’t import Estima to the USA because
    sales would cut into their profitable “big” minivan Sienna sales ( sigh ).
    Americans are forced into family vans getting 15-24 mpg COMBINED.

    Volkswagen T5 Transporter = VW makes a 2 & 4 Wheel Drive version
    in Europe and Mexico but cannot sell it in USA due to ridiculous
    “Chicken Tax” provision stuck into an anti-foriegn chicken sales
    bill passed in the 1960s which prevents foreign vans/trucks from
    being sold in America. Transporter is perfect for small RV
    conversions, passenger vans and small commercial uses.

    Mercedes Sprinter = 22 mpg commercial and passenger vans
    with turbo diesels and gas engines that outperform and outlast
    anything America has built. RV conversion companies love
    the Sprinter because consumers can buy an RV made from
    one that doesn’t get 5-12 mpg! Unfortunately the Chicken Tax
    makes the price unachievable for many. Sprinters are made
    in Dusseldorf, Germany, disassembled and reassembled in
    S. Carolina to get past the Chicken Tax rules. This makes
    them a high priced alternative for commercial and residential
    buyers. In Europe, Sprinter is available as a VW variant and
    in all-wheel-drive and hybrid variations! Could you dig a
    hybrid diesel RV? Europeans can. We cannot.

    Ford Transit ( “E-Series” ) and
    Ford Transit Connect = The larger Transit van is Sprinter’s rival
    in Europe and around the planet. U.S.A. Chicken Tax makes
    them unavailable to us and we Americans have had three choices
    in a commericial van that we can afford – Dodge, Chevy or Ford.
    Of course these truck-based vans offer old engines and have
    not been redesigned since the Carter Administration. They give
    you 8-15 mpg and you will like it! Thanks to EPA pressure,
    Ford will build it’s latest Eurovan, the Transit here in the USA and
    relable it the “E-Series” replacing those antiquated Econolines
    they’ve shoved down our throats all these many years. The
    Transit Connect microvan has been available in Europe for years
    and sold in the USA for the last 3. Transit Connects are built
    in Turkey, partially disassembled and then reassembled in the
    USA for sale ( so stupid! ). This new generation Transit Connect
    is the small commercial van we now know in it’s latest iteration.
    So Ford announces we’ll get seats – my vote for most underwhelming
    news of the year. Now if we get a hybrid or plug-in, NOW THAT
    IS NEWS!

    In Europe an RV buyer is confronted with a myriad of choices
    that posess turbo diesel power and get decent mileage. If a
    guy wants an all wheel drive van he can convert into a
    camper or toy hauler….here in the USA the choices are
    pathetic. Read online of guys who’ve done all sorts of
    desperate endeavors to buy a van in Mexico and somehow
    convert a temporary U.S. registration into a permanent one
    only to fail and have to give up his van! If you want to
    see the USA with your family in an RV – IT’S GONNA
    COST YA BUDDY! We can’t buy a Westfalia Sprinter
    or a sporty VW Transporter.

    Let’s hope this new Transit Connect and USA-built,
    large Transit will usher in competition, which is good
    for all of us. Can you see GM offering a light/mid duty
    van with a hybrid drive system??? We can only wish.

    For years I’ve dreamed of buying an AWD Sprinter
    that has a hybrid drivetrain. They’ve teased such
    vehicles but you cannot buy one. I have kayaks
    and mountainbikes to haul, and kids to show the USA…

    Watching the van industry is like watching sap drip.
    It’s really been pathetic!

  5. James says:

    When reading hybrid car and EV websites, often you get
    readers who respond negatively to chats about government
    and how their decisions effect the auto industry.

    Even though any talk about government involvement in
    ANYTHING is bound to bring out partisan rants, and
    commentary, you see how much government’s role in the
    industry effects what we can buy and how.

    Here, a lousey special interest payback inclusion way down
    inside the hundreds of pages of an an otherwise
    reasonable law preventing harm to home chicken farmers
    has resulted in lots of wasted gasoline, and a stifling of
    free market choices for every single American.

    Let’s hope Ford will eventually give us a hybrid van
    that is affordable and versatile. What they have to realize
    is the pent-up market that has been boiling here.
    How Fed Ex, DHL and every single small to large business
    out there needs vans, and how Sprinters do not sell
    in gigantic numbers like they do in Europe because
    of the stifling up-front price we have to pay due to this
    absolutely insane tax.

    GM, Dodge, Ford? Build a DECENT, efficient van with
    stand-up room inside ( High roof version ) with several
    wheelbase options and watch them sell like
    tacos at a marijuana convention!

  6. Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I in finding It really helpful & it helped me out a lot. I am hoping to give something back and aid others such as you helped me.