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If you're like me, you're probably wondering why Ford has come out with a new product in the Medium Duty Commercial Vehicle Market segment this fiscal year, when industry sales are expected to be weaker than original forecasts. If you did wonder, then you haven't seen the Ford Transit Connect. An unabashed, small (don't dare call it mini) van that promises to be the vehicle version of a multi-tasking child that is watching television, playing a computer game, and text messaging their friends all at the same time.

The six-foot six-inch height is surprising and creates a roomy, if not downright capacious space for whatever application the owner can imagine. Plus, Edmunds lists the vehicle with a 23 mpg fuel rating and 135 cu. ft. of cargo space all at a price tag of $20.8K - welcome specs for the small business owner looking to save, in all areas of their business, without sacrificing quality. If you need power, though, then this vehicle may not be for you. The 4 cylinder engine is only putting out 128 lbs. ft. of torque at 4750 rpm. The horsepower story isn't much better with 136 hp at 6300 rpm.

I still think this vehicle has the opportunity to be a game-changing crossover in the commercial and consumer vehicle markets alike. The large space gives contractors, small business owners and shuttle services the opportunity to use a smaller, more fuel efficient vehicle with enough room to handle all of their needs. For the consumer, the Transit Connect has an optional three-across bench style second row seat. This could mean a multitude of uses for drivers with wheelchairs, families with an active lifestyle, small bands and folks who simply dig the quirkiness of the vehicle.

Ford has also reached out to the earth friendly crowd - they will be happy to know that Consumer Reports mentioned Ford's plans to come out with a battery-electric hybrid version this year. It seems as though the hits just keep on coming for Ford as they add to the ever-popular Mustang muscle car and F-Series trucks with the Connect, redesigned Fusion and Taurus. Suddenly Ford's vehicle lineup is looking quite strong and attractive. They may even prompt me to take the, "Have you driven a Ford lately" challenge to heart, and actually drive one instead of simply answering, "No."

I am excited to start seeing these vehicles on the road here in the U.S. instead of pictures from Europe but I'm even more excited to see what effect the vehicle will have on the industry trend to produce larger - more powerful and roomy - but less efficient vehicles. What effect do you think the new Ford Transit Connect will have on the market?

Posted by Therran Oliphant, Account Representative, Commercial Vehicle Truck Group, Polk (01.05.2010)

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