Feb. 9, 2018—Ford unveiled its redesigned 2019 Transit Connect utility vehicle Thursday at the Chicago Auto Show. It adds a diesel engine and new driver-assist technologies, the vehicle can be used to haul both passengers and cargo.
Ford has positioned the seven-passenger vehicle as an affordable alternative to the minivan for entrepreneurs, pet owners and grandparents, according to USA Today.
“Not everybody needs the DVD player and built-in vacuum,” said Sam Locricchio, Ford product communications manager. “You know what? We sell a lot of these bad boys.”
In addition to pet owners, the Dearborn-based automaker is trying to appeal to consumers born from 1946 to 1964.
America is home to 111 million baby boomers who control a vast majority of the nation’s spending power. And one in three boomers plans to purchase a vehicle in the next three years, according to AARP.
The wagon, which has dual sliding doors, features standard pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection to help avoid hitting anyone who might unexpectedly cross in front of the vehicle's path. Available adaptive cruise control automatically slows the vehicle when radar detects traffic slowing ahead. A new 2-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with auto start-stop comes with the all-new 8-speed automatic. Ford targets at least a 30 mpg EPA estimated highway fuel economy rating with the new 1.5 liter-diesel engine.
"Customers pay for what they need and not for what they don't," said Imran Jalal, Ford commercial vehicle brand and communications manager. "These customers are on a tight budget."
He noted that 63 percent of new vehicle buyers are aged 50 to 68. And that group purchases 6.2 million vehicles annually, far more than other demographics. Ford is looking at a market of 17 million drivers over 50 during the next decade.
"Baby boomers are the first generation that regularly changes careers after age 50," Jalal said. "That means they may want to convert their vehicle from a people mover to a cargo van for small businesses."
The vehicle has voice mail, e-mail, text, Bluetooth, GPS and voice dialing capabilities.
"Everybody's on the go. We never stop," said Tim Stoehr, Ford general fleet marketing manager. "You need connectivity to remain competitive."
The 2019 Transit Connect Wagon has up to 2,000 pounds of towing capacity with the available tow package, and a better payload than a diesel-powered Ram 1500 traditional pickup, he said.
"This is for baby boomers moving into a new phase of life," Stoehr said.