Saturday, January 14, 2006

Transit or Econoline, which would be the best competitor for the increasingly popular Dodge/Mercedes/Freightliner Sprinter?

Ford is bringing out a redesigned Transit commercial van for Europe and the rest of the world. And I again think that it should be brought to the US to compete with DCX's Sprinter van.
The Econoline has been a workhorse for decades and has little change in the last 22 years.
For several years I had an Econoline E350 as my company vehicle and it served it's purpose well, but was a pig as far as economy. I'm not a lover of vans in general, prefering pickups for my personal use, but over the years have driven many Ford, Chevy and even Dodge vans. The Fords were always my favorites for simple reasons related to design. The doors were easier to get in and out and with more of a hood, less of the eninge protruded into the cab. The dashboard was usually better and handling and braking were marginally better. But even with the straight six engines, all of the US vans were pigs at the pumps.

So is it any wonder that the new Sprinter from Dodge/Freightliner (and in Europe Mercedes Benz) with it's more fuel efficient 5 cyl Diesel is becoming increasingly more poplular in fleets, like the local utilities and shippping companies? Not just fleet sales, but near me I'm noticing more Sprinters in the hands of small contractors, such as HVAC and plumbers. With all the roof height and wheelbase options, the Sprinter is just as if not more configuralbe than the Econoline and is even incroaching on the RV market.

Now Ford needs either a redesigned Econoline with a more fuel efficient powertrain, or maybe they need to bring the Transit here. The Transit, is available in either front or rear wheel drive with more versions than the Sprinter. Roof, wheelbase, powertrain and drive options make the Transit one of the most flexible commercial chassis in the world.

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