The fourth generation Transit platform will see the current range replaced by two separate variants sold under the Transit brand, but with a different sub-name to differentiate them - a mid sized Transit Custom van (intended to compete in the same size class as the Mercedes-Benz Vito and Volkswagen Transporter - the passenger Tourneo version will also be based on this version) whilst the larger, long wheelbase, high roof body configurations will also be sold under an as yet unknown sub-name, and will be aimed at the more traditional Transit customer base. This version will also form the basis of the North American variants which will replace the Ford E-Series in the US and Canada, and will be produced in Claycomo, Missouri, the plant that used to build the original and previous-generation Ford Escape models. The second generation Transit Connect will also share styling cues with the two larger Transits, but will again share little engineering commonality, and is also expected to launch at the same time in 2013.
In September 2011 a prototype Transit Custom was spotted in the Austrian Alps being road tested. Designed by Paul Campbell of Ford of Europe, in March 2012 Ford showed the first official shots of the van in Tourneo (passenger) format. This revealed that the external design takes styling cues from Ford of Europe's Kinetic Design philosophy, with a cab and dashboard design showing influences from the third generation Ford Focus. Leaked US patent drawings show that the corresponding next generation Transit Connect and full-sized Transit will use the same design language as the Custom.
The Transit Custom was first officially seen at the 2012 Commercial Vehicle Show at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, England.
From launch, the Transit has never been officially sold in North America, despite in part being developed by Ford in the United States. The model's only foray into the Americas so far has been in Mexico where the Transit debuted in 2007. Ford has stated that the fourth generation Transit platform will be global, also acting as a replacement for the long running E-Series range in the United States and Canada.
In October 2011, Ford confirmed the North American version, by the retooling of the facility in Kansas City, Missouri for its assembly. Ford also registered trademark applications for Ford T-250, T-350, T-450, and T-550, which indicates that the Transit will likely follow the same naming scheme as the E-Series to differentiate itself from the smaller, mechanically unrelated Transit Connect that was introduced in North American in 2010.
Due to its four-cylinder diesel engines, manual transmission, lower weight and more aerodynamic design, the Transit is considerably more fuel efficient, although less powerful than the E-Series, which is a mainstay with a V8 and automatic transmission. Currently the E-Series competes in North America with the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, one of the Transit's main rivals in Europe.
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