Transit triumphs over a “ten year” trial
There’s a reason commercial vehicles are called workhorses … they’re bought to work. Don’t, however, expect this to be a labour of love as many of these units are subjected to an extremely punishing working life – day in, day out.
Ford took this to heart and ensured that the all-new Transit two-tonne van – the flagship of the completely redesigned and expanded Ford Transit range, will still be going strong after ten years.
The company achieved this by implementing a process of accelerated ageing that, in just six months, simulated the toughest treatment that customers can dish out in a decade. “I don’t think many customers would believe what this vehicle has been through,” says David Gregory, Transit chief programme engineer, Ford of Europe.
This included accelerated durability tests at Ford’s facilities in Lommel, Belgium, and in Romeo, Michigan in the United States, equivalent to driving 11 million kilometres – or 275 round-the-world trips – at these proving grounds and in extreme conditions across the globe where temperatures ranged from -40°C to 40°C.
“We inflict the worst possible treatment that a van could endure, and we’re only satisfied when our new vehicle comes through with flying colours – just as the Transit has done,” Gregory emphasises.
Further extreme challenges included being driven at top speed, non-stop, for two months, pounding over rough gravel roads, and through salt- and mud-baths. The prototypes were also tested for corrosion resistance in high-humidity chambers, for 12 weeks, and put through non-stop “figures-of-eight” for one month.
Engineers have driven the all-new Transit more than 5 000 times over an extreme course of potholes and bumps, and conducted a strength test by driving it at 60 km/h into a 140 mm kerb. Prior to launch, the new model covered more than 500 000 km of tough real-world use with high-mileage Transit customers as well.
Ford reports that all this has led the company to identify and deliver more than 100 significant improvements to the Transit as a direct result to this testing regime. “Pushing the van to the limit and beyond helps us to deliver a stronger, more robust product,” says Gregory. “This translates directly into everyday reliability for the customer, however tough the working environment.”
The all-new Ford Transit is now on sale in South Africa alongside the Transit Custom.