The most prestigious award in the light commercial vehicle sector is presented annually to the van which, in the opinion of the 24 judges, makes the most significant contribution to the efficient carriage of goods by road, to safety and to sustainability. Announcing the 2013 result, chairman of the International Van of the Year jury Pieter Wieman, said the winning van design had impressed the jury on a number of fronts and above all by the fact Ford has succeeded in building a complete new light van on an existing platform and with the use of existing driveline and chassis components. Furthermore, the new Transit sets new standards with regard to styling, drivability and load carrying ability. The new Transit Custom has a car-like exterior and interior which makes the vehicle attractive for the growing European group of self employed people and craftsmen that use the vehicle for both business and private journeys.
The driving dynamics are also very close to a passenger car which is partly due to the 37 percent increase of the torsional stiffness of the body of the vehicle. The increase of the stiffness also results in very low noise levels. Driver comfort was improved by a completely new designed cockpit like dashboard, by the adjustable driving position with 30 mm increased seat travel and a steering column that is adjustable for reach and rake.
Notwithstanding that, the Ford Transit Custom is, in the opinion of the jury, a very functional and practical vehicle. The vehicle sets new standards with regard to loading volume (6,0 cubic meters to 6.8 cubic meters), width between wheel arches and height and width of sliding side load doors. The optimized bulkhead and loadspace design enables even the short wheelbase model to carry three Euro pallets of at least one meter high. An interesting novelty is the roof rack system that is seamlessly integrated into the roof and can be deployed when required.
Ford has paid a lot of attention to the active and passive safety aspects of the new Transit Custom. To maximize protection of the passengers, the Transit Custom has a body structure with ultra-high-strength steel. In total over 40 percent of the body is made from high-strength or ultra-high-strength steels, which offers high levels of crash protection. The vehicle has an enhanced restraint system which now gives customers the option of specifying curtain airbags for the front seat occupants, in addition to driver and passenger airbags and seat-mounted side thorax airbags. Furthermore a non-axial stroking steering column is fitted, which helps to reduce loads on the passengers head and chest in the event of a high speed frontal impact.
Ford has also paid a lot of attention to reducing the cost of ownership. The new Transit Custom is expected to offer the same good price-quality ratio that customers know from other Ford products. Furthermore Ford claims ‘class-leading fuel economy’ delivered by the improved 2.2-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel engine. Minimized maintenance and repair times, a 12-year anti-perforation warranty, and very long service intervals up to two-years or 50,000 km also contribute to lower cost of ownership.