Ford Transit turns 55 years old – but celebrations are on hold

  • Over three million Ford Transits have been sold in the UK since 1965
  • Ford deploys 131-strong Transit fleet to help fight coronavirus
  • Reaffirms importance of the van economy to the UK in 2020

Today, 28 April 2020, should have been the opening day of this year’s CV Show at the Birmingham NEC, where Ford had planned to kick off celebrating 55 years of the Transit van, including the news that more than three million Transits have now been sold in the UK.

Instead, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the NEC is currently repurposed as a Nightingale Hospital, the CV Show is cancelled, and the Ford Transit’s 55th birthday celebrations are on hold.

Not least because Ford’s own fleet of Transits – including dealer and press demonstrators – is presently deployed across the UK, helping to take the fight to this disease.

The Transit has long been called ‘the backbone of Britain’ in Ford’s marketing campaigns, and right now it’s putting the work in with the NHS and other essential services.

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What are all those Transits doing to help in the fight against coronavirus?

Ford has made 131 Transits from its demonstrator, pool and press fleets available to the coronavirus effort, and they’re seeing service with 40 different organisations – including 10 NHS trusts. There are over 200 Ford vehicles playing their part in total.

Ford Transit Custom, fighting the coronavirus

In fact, more than half the fleets Ford is supporting are ‘blue light’ fleets including the ambulance trusts, and in these areas the Ford commercial vehicle business has been able to provide 38 Transits, 12 Transit Connects, eight Transit Customs, three Transit Couriers and two Ranger pickups.

Furthermore, around 25% of the other vehicles are on loan to food retailers, while others are supporting delivery services. As you know, all of these places are experiencing higher than normal demand.

So much so, that you might even think 131 Transits represents a drop in the ocean. But surely every little helps, as that familiar advertising slogan goes.

And if nothing else, this crisis has underlined just how important commercial vehicles are to the UK as a whole.

Why vans are so crucial to the UK during the coronavirus effort – and beyond

According to Ford and the Centre for Economics and Business Research, in 2019 ‘around 85%’ of British people made at least one online purchase. The vast majority of those purchases would have been delivered by a van.

Further statistics from the SMMT (the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) suggest that with the growth in van sales over recent years, one in 10 British workers is dependent on a van to carry out their work. That’s around 3.4 million people.

Ford Transit, driving, dark blue

Ford of Britain commercial vehicles director, Mandy Dean commented: ‘Throughout this unprecedented crisis, the van economy has made an unrelenting and continued contribution to the well-being of this country.’

Too right.

Dean further added: ‘As soon as we saw the huge rise in demand for vehicles to support everything from home deliveries to providing transport for care homes, we took action and pressed into urgent service every available Transit and other vehicle in our fleet.’

Has Ford really sold over three million Transits in the UK alone?

Ford actually hit the 3 million milestone at the end of 2019 – but we are talking about all vehicles wearing a Transit badge, which means the Courier, Connect and Custom as well as the biggest model in the range.

Ford Transit Connect Sport Van

The exact figure was 3,066,087 at the end of 2019, with a further 20,171 vans sold by the end of March 2020 – taking the total to 3,086,258.

What else is Ford doing to support people during the coronavirus outbreak?

As well as doing its best to make sure nobody get penalised for missing a service interval or not being able to make a warranty claim in what would have previously been the right time, Ford has also launched a ‘Peace of Mind’ package for new vehicle buyers.

We’ve covered this extensively in a separate story, but it is essentially offering up to six months payment free on some new van purchases.

Any other Ford van news?

We were expecting a whole raft of announcements at the 2020 CV Show, but understand that a lot of these have been put back until later in the year.

However, Ford has confirmed that a ‘mild hybrid’ version of the Fiesta Van will be available later in 2020.

Ford Fiesta Van - to be available as mHEV mild hybrid in 2020

Using mHEV (that’s mild hybrid electric vehicle) technology similar to that already available on the Transit and Transit Custom, this won’t allow the Fiesta Van to drive on electric power alone, but it will boost its efficiency. Whether it will be worth the extra cost remains to be seen…

Looking further ahead, development of the pure electric Ford Transit apparently remains on track, while the Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid is already available to order.

Also read:

>> Ford van and pickup reviews on Parkers

>> Ford offering payment holidays to NEW van buyers

>> COVID-19 advice for van and pickup drivers

>> What is a van payment holiday?

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