Ford’s fleet boss Phil Hollins told What Van? the company is looking to have the first 1000 units sold before the vehicle is even in the country, rather than the vans being specced by Ford and handed to the dealers to sell. “We’ve identified big customers and want to sell the first 1000 units before the vehicle goes on sale,” said Hollins. “We’ll have the prices out in late June with the residual values – the RV setters have already seen and driven the vehicle.” That happened in April at Ford’s Dunton development centre in Essex, where much of the Connect’s engineering has taken place.
“Versus a traditional launch we’re two or three months ahead of when that information would normally be available, and you need that data to talk to any serious fleet customer,” he said. Production starts in September, with first units registered and on the road in early November.
Hollins admitted that the Connect’s global product development hub being within miles of the UK headquarters was useful, but doesn’t see it as a stumbling block to repeating the process in the future if vehicles are developed further afield. “We’ve established a process so there’s no reason why we can’t replicate it with Germany or America,” he declared. “The only time I’ll know it has worked is at the end of the year if we’ve got vehicles with customers’ names against them rather than in stock, but six months out I’m confident.”
Hollins confirmed Ford will “refine and replicate” the process for the new Transit coming in early 2014, which has been partially developed at the Dunton site.