Market Snapshot

Commercial Vans Offer Opportunity—Ford Transit

Ford Transit Connect by H&R Springs, Piloti Racing Shoes

Some of the best opportunities are the ones businesses might never consider. Enthusiasts have been the core market for the specialty-equipment industry, but opportunities within other sectors could provide a buffer during a recessed economy.

Business services and recreational equipment are among the least known or understood markets in the specialty-equipment industry. Fleet vehicle operators, military and farming-equipment suppliers, logistics companies and small businesses have needs that specialty-equipment manufacturers can fulfill.

The products and services that these companies demand fall within the scope of products that are already being manufactured; some as is with others simply needing marginal retooling. Service vehicles, equipment haulers and product delivery vehicles require utility and functionality in their design and packaging. SEMA members have the knowledge and experience to carry their products into new markets, with the convergence of business-related and recreational products covering both routes.

Additionally, these items represent a slice of the pie that has experienced consistent expansion year over year. From 2000 to 2007, each of the product categories listed below had positive growth.

At the 2009 Chicago Motor Show, Ford announced its decision to introduce the commercial Transit Connect van to North America in 2009. The model was initially designed as a utility vehicle for the European market to be used in fleet and business sales, but has since been adopted by individuals as a personal utility vehicle around the world.

Ford Transit Connect with Utility Accessory, Storage and Protective Features

Len Deluca, director of Commercial Truck Sales and Marketing at Ford, spoke to members of the press about the model’s versatility, "The vehicle will come in as a wagon; and it's a five-passenger vehicle that can be customized to whatever a customer's needs are. If it’s a retail buyer and they just want a different look on a wagon, they can buy that wagon with five passengers and have room in the back for carrying whatever— soccer equipment, hockey equipment.” 

The model may offer utility for businesses as conversion vans and options for customization for general consumers.

Ford plans to ship the gasoline-powered model of the van to North America, but also has ambitions to unveil the all-electric iteration in 2010, built in conjunction with Smith Electric Vehicles—a European company with tens of thousands of battery-electric conversions under its belt.

Ford claims to have sold more than 600,000 units worldwide from Europe to Asia. The table below offers a snapshot of how sales are distributed throughout Europe.

Toyota Sienna NASCAR Fan Rampvan with wheelchair access and “kneeling” suspension.

Toyota Tundra Ducati Desmosedici Transporter

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