Our first peek at the next-generation Ford Transit commercial van comes courtesy of the Tourneo Custom concept, which will debut at the Geneva Motor Show. According to Ford, the concept "communicates very strongly" the appearance of the next-generation Transit, which is destined for sale in Europe and Asia.

Ford already offers a nine-seat passenger van called the Tourneo in Europe, as well as a smaller five-seat model called the Tourneo Connect, both of which are designed for use as shuttles. The Tourneo Custom concept, however, rides on an all-new global platform that also will underpin Ford's cargo vans. Those models, which continue to bear the Transit name, will be launched later in 2012.

Visually, the sleek Tourneo concept adopts the "Kinetic Design" language that graces other Ford products; notably, the front fascia and grille look remarkably like those of the new Focus, Fusion, and Escape. The show car also wears LED running lights and smart 18-inch alloy wheels. Expect the production Transit (in markets outside the U.S.) to look very similar to this concept vehicle.

The concept van employs Ford's turbocharged 2.2-liter inline-four diesel engine and a six-speed manual transmission; output will range from 99 hp to 153 hp, depending on trim. Front-wheel drive and engine stop-start technology are standard. Highlights include features include a backup camera, Sync voice recognition, and a lane-departure warning system.

In Europe, Ford refers to this model of the Transit as its one-ton (or lighter duty) model, which won't be coming to America. There is also a two-ton version, however, which we will get here. Ford promises that the "larger and higher payload Transits" will arrive in North America later in 2012. As has long been reported, when the bigger Transit does get here, it will serve as Ford's replacement for the decades-old E-Series/Econoline vans in the U.S. market.

The new-for-America Transit will be produced at Ford's Kansas City assembly Plant in Missouri, which currently builds the F-150 pickup. Ford confirms the global Transit will have rear-wheel drive, which matches the drive configuration of the outgoing E-Series vans. Not much else is known about the new commercial van, although we can expect the global Transit model to wear significantly different styling than what is previewed by the Tourneo Custom concept. The new vehicle also should be significantly more fuel-efficient than the thirsty E-Series.

Ford already has begun testing the 2013 Transit for use both in Europe and the U.S., with rigorous trials including an evaluation of how well the commercial van can hop curbs. Expect more details on the global Transit to emerge later this year.