Ford Transit Connect Family One Concept

transit family one concept rear doors

By Brendan Moore

04.08.2009

I saw a lot of things today at the first day of the New York Auto Show; I saw Jim Press of Chrysler drive a Fiat 500 to the stage at a press conference that was supposed to be all about the new Jeep Cherokee, I saw Steve Saleen’s new specialty cars, I saw really cheap materials in almost every display, I saw the dog-friendly version of the Honda Element and I saw a French auto journalist make a terrible face when his colleague pointed out the Chrysler Sebring to him. These are just some of the things I saw at the show today.

I also saw some pretty cool versions of the forthcoming Ford Transit Connect. There were nicely-done commercial versions there, but the consumer concept Ford showed was called the Family One concept.

I liked it. Here at Autosavant we’ve been waiting for the Transit to show up ever since Ford announced they might bring over the European van, and now that it arrival is definite, we look forward to some seat time in the tough little van.

But it is apparent the Ford believes that the Transit Connect might just appeal to families as well – something we‘ve thought right from the beginning. It is also not much of a mental struggle to see this van have some strong appeal to the same young people that crave the Scion xB, a market segment Nissan has also made note of, and is looking to address with the imminent Nissan Cube.

But the concept was focused on family use. I’m certain we’ll see the young hipster version ginned up very soon.

The Family One concept has some interesting features and some nice touches. I can see how it would certainly serve the target market very well.

I’ve attached some photos as well as Ford’s press release regarding the concept. I think it is a pretty good percentage bet that we’ll see something like this for sale soon.

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Ford Press Release:

Ford transit connect family one concept:
smart, green, fun for children, parents alike

• The Transit Connect Family One is a forward-looking concept vehicle that combines high-tech and high-touch amenities to keep a youthful family connected, engaged and entertained

• Transit Connect Family One could help young families to drive green, built on a spacious yet compact global platform, with potential to host a wide array of fuel efficient engines

• Aimed at small business commercial applications, the Transit Connect goes on sale in the U.S. this summer, starting at $21,475, including destination, rated at 22 city, 25 highway miles per gallon

ANN ARBOR, Mich., April 3, 2009 – Ford is listening to the unique wants and needs of families and responds with the Transit Connect Family One concept – a space that’s all about helping parents and engaging children.

“Transit Connect is a versatile vehicle that can be adapted to a wide variety of applications,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas. “The Family One concept delivers fun with function. This fun, cool space is for parents and small children alike, combining fuel efficiency with advanced technologies that can help keep families connected on the go.”

Designed for “the coolest mom”The Family One concept is based on the Transit Connect, a global Ford platform adaptable to a wide variety of applications, both personal and professional. This concept vehicle represents Ford’s first effort in showcasing the versatile Transit Connect for personal use.

“The customers we envisioned when developing the Family One are cosmopolitan parents in their mid-30s with highly refined design sensitivities,” said Ford Designer Chiwei Lee. “They waited until they were ready for children and see parenthood as adding to their aesthetic portfolio, instead of smashing it.”

Transit Connect has a utilitarian form that offers 135 cubic feet of space on a compact platform, with agile driving dynamics ideally suited to urban driving and tight spaces. The vibrant color scheme and expansive greenhouse area combine to give the Family One concept friendly visual character and a bright, airy interior space.

“For children, the conceptual intent of the vehicle is to be as engaging and entertaining when parked as it is on the go,” added Lee. “The Family One easily transitions from functional family mobility to ‘base camp’ when the coolest mom puts the shift lever into the park position.”

Playful Space
The second-row seats in the concept provide youth passengers with ample room to get comfortable, enjoy projected digital media entertainment on the bulkhead-mounted sunshade screens or look through the expansive windows. Side rear inner door panels are water-pen friendly and easily wipe clean for the next round of creative inspiration.

Clever, family-friendly features include built-in hand sanitizer and sunscreen dispensers, family walkie-talkie radios that charge when docked, an integrated first-aid kit and cargo door-mounted folding twin scooters. The storage area beneath the rear floor holds a folding stroller and an integrated awning extends from the open rear cargo doors. Seat covers are removable, washable and can be changed to redecorate and evolve with changing preferences.

Family Connectivity
The Transit Connect Family One concept vehicle uses in-dash computer technology to keep a family organized, on-schedule and properly equipped with everything from diaper bags to sporting goods, back packs and homework folders that populate the active family environment.

The Family One concept employs radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to keep track of all the items the active family needs to stay organized. When the driver enters the vehicle with children, the in-dash computer will provide notification that Timmy’s hockey equipment is still in the front hall closet. Using predictive algorithms to “learn” based on past usage, the system will identify missing musical instruments or homework on the way to school and will remind parents if they haven’t packed clubs for a scheduled Saturday golf outing.

The system is designed to be intuitively easy to operate, with minimal menu scrolling and programming. It also plays a role in safety – adding to peace of mind – as the system integrates with sensors to notify the driver if a child seat is improperly attached or tensioned.

The technology is designed to seamlessly integrate with the parents’ digital lifestyle.

Fun and Fuel Efficient
The Family One concept is powered by a 2.0-liter I-4 engine – delivering 22 city and 25 highway miles per gallon – and features SmartGauge™ to help parents drive more efficiently.

Looking forward, the global Transit Connect platform has capability to host any one of several efficient engine alternatives, including EcoBoost™ power and battery electric propulsion.

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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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4 Comments

  1. Why couldn’t Dearborn leave the nose alone? I know about the need to federalize the Transit Connect to meet our crash standards, but the restyled snout is hardly “kinetic” or “new edge” or any previous Ford design theme. It’s just bland. The old European nose was actually closer to the three-bladed shaver look. Maybe this is why Peter Horbury was sent packing?

    Anyway, Ford’s clearly experimenting with ideas here and that’s fine. It’s just I don’t think the 140-bhp 2.0-l from the Focus is going to be able to carry all that extra gear –not to mention, you know, real live humans. Bring on the EcoBoost, then we’ll talk.

  2. @James
    “It’s just I don’t think the 140-bhp 2.0-l from the Focus is going to be able to carry all that extra gear”

    In Europe, the top of the line engine makes 109hp, and that’s fine for a vehicle like this. But maybe the laws of physics are different in America, who knows.

  3. I like the walkie-talkie idea, and the stroller would have been handy when my kids were small but this was NOT designed by parents. No parent in their right mind would design a family car with a white interior. One soccer game and it would be alllll over.

  4. I also think the engine/drivetrain will be more than adequate. A vehicle like this is geared for carrying capacity, not top end and drag races. And I bet that it would also be economical.

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