Ford will phase out the decades-old E-Series van in the U.S. market and replace it with the successful Transit commercial van that is sold in Europe. According to Ward's Auto, Ford chief financial officer Lewis Booth told reporters that all future Ford commercial vans will be sold on the same Transit platform worldwide.

In a slideshow at an investor conference in Germany, Booth showed that platform consolidation would lead to the combining of the Transit and E-Series. Ford has been consolidating its number of global vehicles so that one car can be sold in multiple countries, like the new Focus and Fiesta.

Ford Bringing European Transit Commercial Van to U.S. Market image"Clearly, customer tastes have converged," Booth said in Germany, noting that previously American customers questioned why they couldn't have Ford products sold in Europe, and vice versa. The presentation revealed that Ford hopes the new commercial-van platform will sell about 470,000 vehicles globally each year.

The Ford E-Series has been built for 50 years at a Ford factory in Avon Lake, Ohio. The 2012 model is currently available with a choice of 4.6- and 5.4-liter V-8 engines, or a 6.8-liter V-10. Ford apparently has a contract with the United Auto Workers to launch a new vehicle at Avon Lake in 2014. That vehicle could be a new commercial van like the Transit. For other markets, the new Transit will continue to be built at a plant in Kocaeli, Turkey. The Transit was first launched across the Atlantic in 1965.

If and when it arrives here, the new Ford Transit will compete with the new Nissan NV and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Ward's reports that the Sprinter is on track to double its 2010 sales volume this year. There also are rumors that Chrysler's Ram brand will launch a large Fiat-based commercial van - perhaps the Fiat Ducato itself -- to compete with the Sprinter and NV in the U.S.

Source: Ward's Auto