Ford Philippines, it seems, is planning to launch one of their most important models into our market. No, it's not a new Focus, nor is it a new Fiesta. It's not an SUV, nor is it a pick-up truck.
What they're looking at bringing to our market is a new van: the Ford Transit.
Earlier today Ford sent out an invitation that they're launching a new model that will be “taking mobility further” along with an image of the grille. Of course that piqued our interest, and after a bit of checking, it seems the model is the new Transit van.
Now Ford has offered a van before in the form of the American-made E-150, but it was fairly uncompetitive given the configuration of the interior, the lackluster A/C system that couldn't cope with our heat, and the fact that it downed fuel like bottomless iced tea. Something tells us though that the Transit will be different.
We reached out to our contacts throughout the Ford network, and it was confirmed to by various sources that the Transit is planned for a Philippine launch. What wasn't clear to them yet was the configuration; the Transit is available in a variety of markets all over the world in several different configurations such as the Transit Courier (the smallest variant), the Transit Connect (small version), the Transit Custom (midsize van), and the high-roof Transit.
Judging by the shape and look of the grille (it differs per model), we can eliminate the two smallest Transit models such as the Courier and Connect. It's also hard to tell whether we're looking at the Transit Custom or the large Transit, but we were able to get the indicative pricing strategy of Ford.
One source tells us that Ford is looking at offering the model with a price range that starts at about PhP 2.5 million and goes up to PhP 2.8 million. If accurate, judging by that price range, we can reasonably narrow it down further to just the larger Transit.
Nothing is final until Ford officially launches the model. We can't confirm where the Philippine-market Transits will come from but it is unlikely to come from China (the Transit they produce there has a different look, the last time we checked). The United States is another possibility, but the Transit they manufacture there looks different too. The likely source is Ford Otosan in Turkey; the major manufacturing facility that supplies Ford's European operations with the Transit. That would also explain the supposed price tag as we have no bilateral free trade agreement with Turkey.
We also can't be sure what seating arrangement they're looking at for the Transit (some models could have up to 12 seats), but we do expect the mid-roof variant known as the Transit Kombi with the nicer seats (pictured above). We can't confirm if they'll have the commercial panel van version, but it's unlikely at that price range. We do expect the Transit to be a purely diesel model line up, and will likely have manual and automatic gearbox choices.
What we can say, however, is that the high-roof van segment is getting interesting with models from Hyundai and Toyota, among others. The timing is very unusual especially since Toyota has an all-new Hiace high roof variant that is currently dominating the market. The Transit, if priced a bit too high, could have a very difficult uphill climb ahead of it.
Whatever the case may be, we're keeping a keen eye on Ford entry in the van segment.