It started as a trickle with the Mercedes-Benz/Dodge/Freightliner Sprinter vans; but it didn’t take long for plumbers, electricians and contractors to discover the benefits of these vans. Slowly but surely they started making inroads with folks often known for their reluctance to accept vehicles not designed here in the USA. Hey… it’s a better mousetrap.
So now Ford has their Euro-style entry, along with Ram and their FWD ProMaster van, as well as Nissan with their goofy looking NV vans. It’s Ford, however, that’s ruling the roost here. You can’t drive a mile without seeing at least one on the road… You gotta wonder what GM is up to? There’s been nary a rumor as to how they’re going to fight back. They continue to offer their dinosaur van, who’s only claim to fame is that it’s cheap(er). That may play in some quarters, but going forward, not a winning strategy. I just can’t imagine GM ceding that market segment to Ford, Ram and Nissan without a fight.
So where does Ford go next?
Mercedes now offers a 4×4 (4Matic) version of the Sprinter, both in a high range only version as well as one with a 2-speed transfer case. Will we see similar versions from Ford? I hope so.
Mercedes also offers a mid-size Metris van, which is 4×8-friendly and has a 2,600 pound payload capacity. Will Ford offer a “tweener,” something that slots between the smaller Transit Connect and the full-size Transit, to do battle against the Metris? Again, I hope so.
And here’s a bigger question
Should Ford offer a pickup version of the Transit — something that could potentially step on the toes of the F-Series? Once more, I hope so.
I do think there is a market for a pickup truck that offers a different approach than what’s been traditionally available here. I would not be at all surprised to see Transit owners request such a vehicle from Ford, as a more economical lifestyle type of truck; and from Ram too, for that matter. No, it won’t tow like an F-Series, but it will haul like one. For many truck buyers that’s enough. The better fuel mileage is icing on the cake.
Remember, these Euro-style vehicles came into being because of their ability to navigate the claustrophobic streets found in European cities, and the incredibly high fuel prices over there. While we may be enjoying low fuel prices now, that will surely come to an end. Having a T-Series pickup in place could be a good thing. Finally, having more choices is always good.