Despite the fact that there are still near enough 3 and a half months left of 2013, the title of “International Van of the Year 2014” has been awarded at the COMTRANS commercial vehicle exhibition in Moscow to the all-new Ford Transit Connect; which means that Ford has become the first single manufacturer to win the award for two consecutive years.
It’s also a record-equalling fifth “International Van of the Year” victory for the manufacturer with the 24-strong jury made up of European specialist journalists giving the Transit Connect 130 points from a maximum possible 163 ahead of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (123) and Renault Kangoo (25). (Those other awards having gone to Ford in 2001 & 2007 with the Transit, 2003 with the Transit Connect and 2013 with the Transit Custom)
And it’s good to get another quote from the magnificently-named vice president of Product Development at Ford of Europe, Barb Samardzich: “The all-new Ford Transit Connect has moved the game on for compact vans – and we are really proud to win this significant award again. The new Transit Connect is just as tough and hard-working as all our commercial vehicle range, and comes with smart new looks and much lower fuel bills.”
Barb neglected to mention that Ford is in the process of completely redesigning its entire commercial vehicle line-up over a two year period, with the stylish new Transit Connect joining an all-new four-strong Transit range that already includes the Transit Custom and has the two-tonne Transit and Transit Courier models coming soon in 2014.
So what was it that impressed the jury? Pieter Wieman, chairman of the “International Van of the Year” jury explains: “The all-new Ford Transit Connect impressed the jury on a number of fronts, and above all by the fact Ford has succeeded in building a light van with a strong accent on economics – the vehicle is a good answer to the needs of small operators as well as big fleets to reduce the cost of transport of goods. The loading space offers several innovative aspects such as load-through hatch in the bulkhead, fold-up front passenger seat and a sliding side door in the long-wheelbase model which enables a Europallet to be loaded. Ford has also paid a lot of attention to durability and safety, subjecting the van to commercial vehicle testing and durability standards, and being first in its class to offer features like Active City Stop.”
And he didn’t even have time in that statement to mention that the Transit Connect also offers van operators class-leading fuel economy of 70.6mpg (with the ECOnetic model), CO2 emissions of 105g/km (a 34% improvement on the model currently in the marketplace) and excellent load carrying ability (volumes of 2.9m3 and 3.6m3 with a full bulkhead and maximum payloads of up to 1,000kg) and durability. You can also add in that the “highly fuel-efficient 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine also offers class-leading petrol economy.”
The new Ford Transit Connect isn’t available yet, but will be hitting forecourts later this year and is available in Van, Double-Cab-in-Van and Kombi bodystyles.
“Our teams across Europe are justifiably over the moon with this great news,” said Stephen Lesh, Transit Connect chief program engineer. “The team has worked tirelessly to deliver the perfect vehicle for our hard-working customers, and this is a wonderful day for all those responsible for the Transit Connect across Europe.”
This prestigious award means yet another trophy on the Ford fireplace having already picked up in the last two years the “International Pickup Award 2013”or the Ford Ranger, and the “International Engine of the Year” in 2012 and 2013 for their 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine.