Ford to Build Transit Connect for Young Families image

Ford plans to manufacture a seven-passenger vehicle with sliding doors, aimed at young families.

The vehicle will be smaller than the Transit Connect commercial van, cheaper than the minivans sold by rivals Honda and Toyota and more fuel efficient. The Ford Transit Connect has been selling since 2009 as a commercial vehicle, and now the people-mover version will make its debut at the end of this month at the Los Angeles auto show. The van will be manufactured in Valencia, Spain and will go on sale by the end of 2013.

The peak of US minivans sales was in 2010 with 1.3 million, but today that number was halved as Ford stopped production of its Freestar minivan in 2007, focusing on the Flex and the Edge crossovers, and the Escape and the Explorer SUVs. Minivans have seen a drop in sales also because the social view has changed and young families do not chose this type of vehicles anymore. Automakers have tried to make customers return to minivans changing the vehicle’s design and using marketing methods.

“Toyota, Honda and other minivan manufacturers have left today’s customers behind with inefficient people movers that are too large and too expensive,” said Ford’s head of global engineering Hau Thai-Tang.