Ford’s Dave Petts has played a key role in the success of Britain’s best-loved van. As Ford of Britain’s Transit product manager for the past 11 years he has made a major contribution to the soaraway success of a genuine motor industry icon.

That is why we have inducted him into the What Van? Hall of Fame. With a distinguished motor industry career spanning two decades, recent years have seen Petts oversee the roll-out of the four-vehicle Transit line-up encompassing the Courier, Connect, Custom and the classic Transit itself. His efforts and the undoubted virtues of the quartet concerned have helped Ford retain its long-standing position as the light commercial market’s leader.

Petts’ role involves defining future product strategies, pricing – a hot topic in the wake of the vote in favour of Brexit – options deployment and the launching of new models with the aim of maximising sales, share and revenues while maintaining and strengthening the Ford brand.

Prior to his current job Petts worked in commercial vehicle market research and communications for Ford
of Europe.

He handled the research behind extending the Transit nameplate to other Ford vehicles; in particular, the research that resulted in the naming of the Transit Connect. He was also responsible for the hugely successful ‘Backbone of Britain’ advertising campaign.

Petts’ communications work involved orchestrating everything from commercial vehicle brochures to pan-European television campaigns embracing Ford’s entire light commercial line-up. In the process he managed the transition from the UK-specific ‘Backbone’ initiative to the pan-European ‘Job Done’ campaign.

Ford of Britain’s Transit product manager is familiar with the sharp end of the industry too: back in the 1990s he spent two years as a commercial sales zone manager covering London and the South East for the company.

A director of the executive committee of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and a council member of the society’s commercial vehicle working group, Petts explained how Euro6 is having a beneficial impact on emissions at the Clean Air Summit in London last year.

He is without doubt the go-to guy for anybody in search of advice on anything that is Transit-related or anything that relates to the light commercial business. It is a testament to his vast knowledge that countries as diverse as Australia and Russia contact him for help.

So what does Petts do in the rare moments when he is not thinking about Transits? A keen cyclist, he follows the fortunes of two very different football teams: Manchester United and his own local club Southend United.