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Chicago auto show: Ford Transit Connect van targets businesses

Mon, 09 Feb 2009 00:00:00 -0800

The demise of the Freestar (more commonly remembered as the Windstar) minivan left Ford without a small cargo carrier it could pitch to business and fleet customers who didn't need the hugeness of the E-series van.

That gap in the product lineup gets filled this summer with the front-drive Transit Connect van--a product Ford has been selling in European and Asian markets for six years. Ford rolls out the U.S. version of the Transit Connect--aimed at commercial customers, not families--this week at the Chicago auto show.

Ford will also offer an electric-powered version of the Transit Connect to fleet customers, beginning in 2010. The electric-powered van will have a range of 100 miles, Ford said. Smith Electric Vehicles in the U.K. will convert the van to battery power.

The Transit Connect is built in Turkey, but Ford has made slight changes to the grille and interior trim for the U.S. market.

Under the hood is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 136 hp and 128 pounds-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a four-speed automatic. Ford expects this combination to deliver at least 20 mpg in city driving and 24 mpg on the highway.

The Transit Connect has dual sliding doors on the side, and rear doors that swing out as much as 225 degrees. The cargo area has 135 cubic-feet of space. Air conditioning and power steering are standard.

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