For a couple of generations, the Ford Econoline van has been as much a part of the landscape as, well, a Lincoln Town Car. But like the Town Car, the Econoline — now known as the E-Series — is being killed off.
It’s not because of flagging sales. The E-Series has owned the big commercial van segment for more than three decades. Ford will try to hold onto that with the replacement, a Sprinter-style, high-roof van called Transit that Ford already sells in Europe. It will get 25% better fuel economy, is far lighter than the E Series, and Ford can see efficiencies from having a single global design.
The Econoline is sure to be missed by many when it goes away in 2013. It’s been made at Ford’s Ohio Assembly plant in Avon Lake that opened in 1974, while the Transit will be made at Ford’s renovated Kansas City (Mo.) Plant. The Econoline was popular not only for cable guys and plumbers, but as a car pool get-to-work vehicle as well.
For the moment, Ford’s job is to get its Transit — already popular in Europe — ready for America. It is being put through three months of intense durability testing including climbing the curbs on the specialized test road at the proving grounds. The Transit will climb the curbs thousands of times on top of navigating the bumpy and pothole-ridden road surface commercial vehicles are sometimes required to endure, Ford says.
Shouldn’t be hard: Ford has already made 6 million of them for the rest of the world.