Ford expects its new Transit Connect to secure a 20% share of the UK light van market.

Last year the brand took a 9% slice of the sector, with the old model on runout notching up 8016 sales, according to the SMMT. But this represented a fall of just 2% on 2011’s total of 8186, so the manufacturer is expecting the new-generation van to provide a major uplift.

In order to become segment leader, the Connect will have to overtake the Peugeot Partner, VW Caddy and Citroen Berlingo, which outsold it last year, and also fend off the challenge of the new Vauxhall Combo – now firmly established in the marketplace following its launch in 2012. Another contender is Mercedes’ new Citan, which is the result of a partnership with Renault and is based on the French brand’s Kangoo.

Ford, however, is not convinced Mercedes’ first light van will present a major challenge despite the strength of the brand.

Mark Easton, LCV product manager, said: “The jury’s out on the Citan. It’s a good attempt to make a mediocre product better and the badge will come into play.”

He said Ford had an advantage in that the Connect was designed and developed solely for its own use. In quality terms, Easton named the Caddy as the Connect’s main rival but claimed: “On any key benchmark the Connect is now the class leader.”

In terms of fuel economy, Ford said the 95hp 1.6-litre Duratorq TDCi Transit Connect Econetic could achieve 70.6mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions of 105g/km – a 34% improvement over the current model. It also claimed that on an 80,000-mile, four-year lifecycle the Econetic would deliver fuel savings of £1600 compared with competitors such as the VW Caddy and Peugeot Partner. Ford said a 5% residual value boost versus the outgoing Connect would also help to minimise cost of ownership.