CHICAGO, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Ford Motor Co. is adding a fuel-efficient European-built compact commercial van to its 2009 U.S. truck lineup and calling it the Transit Connect.
"This workhorse is like nothing available today in the American market," Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of Global Product Development, said at the 100th Chicago Auto Show.
Getting a car-like 19 mpg in city driving and 24 mpg on the highway, the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, front-wheel drive van gets an estimated 40 percent better mileage than current small commercial vans sold domestically. A high roof allows it to carry 143 cubic feet of cargo.
The boxy van has sliding doors on each side and barn-door rear doors that make it easy to load and unload. The cargo area can accommodate items 6.5 feet long and 4.7 feet wide.
The Transit Connect was designed and engineered by Ford Europe and has been manufactured at the Ford assembly plant in Kocaeli, Turkey, since 2003 when it was named International Van of the Year.
Ford showed the Transit Connect in four configurations at the auto show -- as a catering truck, wine delivery truck, as a home technology company van and as transportation for Chicago blues man Eddie Shaw and his Wolf Gang band, which spends more than 200 days a year on the road.