At the opening last week of the today new Transit assembly plant in Nanchang, China, Ford Motor Co. (IW 500/6) announced production of the seven millionth Transit, the popular commercial van launched in 1965 in Europe and now being extended to 118 markets across six continents.
The milestone attended by Ford CEO Alan Mulally. “The Ford Transit plays a significant role in the lives and jobs of millions of people,” Mulally said. “From getting workers to a building site, to delivering important packages, or even rushing a patient to the hospital, people all over the world rely on Ford Transits to get the job done.”
The Jiangling Xiaolan facility is the result of a $300 million investment by Ford’s strategic partner Jiangling Motors Corp (JMC) and produces JMC-branded vehicles and Ford-branded vehicles for the growing Chinese market.
Launched in the same year that the first person walked in space, the Transit made an immediate impact, providing practical support to the booming economies of Europe, Ford said. Since then, the company has developed a vast range of bodystyles and variants: from the parcel van, through tipper trucks and campers, to outrageous one-offs, including the Cosworth V8-powered Supervans.
The all-new 2-ton Transit scheduled for European launch in spring 2014 will sit atop a redesigned and expanded range of models for Europe that also includes the Transit Custom, Transit Connect and Transit Courier.
The Transit also has introduced a list of technology innovations for commercial vehicles to help improve performance, comfort and safety, from features like side loading doors, halogen headlights and radial ply tires, to direct injection diesel engines, high security locks and standard anti-lock brakes.
“The Ford Transit continues to innovate, helping customers carry more goods, reduce their running costs and arrive reliably and safely at their destination,” Mulally said.
Transit production first expanded beyond Europe in 1997 with new facilities in Nanchang, China, and Hai Duong, Vietnam. The new Jiangling Xiaolan plant more than doubles JMC’s annual commercial vehicle production capacity to 545,000 units from 245,000 units. JMC, which builds the Ford Transit for the Chinese market, is 30 per cent owned by Ford.
The global expansion of Transit production and sales takes a further significant step in mid-2014 as the all-new Transit enters North America for the first time. The North American Transit will be built in Kansas City, Mo.
In total, Ford expects to sell more than 400,000 1-ton and 2-ton Transits each year by 2016, the equivalent of selling one vehicle every 80 seconds.