Q&A: Ford Transit Custom designer
CommercialMotor.com speaks to Paul Campbell, Ford of Europe chief designer, about his work developing the next generation of the iconic Ford Transit van.
CM: How important was it for the new Transit to incorporate the Kinetic Design principles of the passenger car range? And, which car does it most closely resemble and why?
Kinetic Design is the face of Ford. Unifying Ford products globally so for me it was essential to follow the kinetic principles. There is no one car that influenced the Transit Custom, we are a global organisation and we share our work very regularly and take notice of new developments continually. I would say that Iosis X was an initial influence and we developed and borrowed elements from Focus, Fiesta as well as our own input.
CM: How long has the design of the new Transit taken?
From start to surface release, 22 months. We have a development process where at the start of the project we have several proposals which are funnelled down to two. After some development and market research we settle on one design to develop.
CM: Transits have a familiar yet distinctive look. What defines this as a Transit van, and were there any problems to overcome in the design?
This is a short and medium wheelbase low roof Transit as far as the rational, pragmatic dimensional descriptions go. We went to great pains to ensure existing Transit owners would experience improvement on all aspects of their last Transit. I believe I can still see Transit in the robust stance – the way it sits on the road. For me, repositioning the SWB/MWB low roof to be universally perceived as a one-tonne vehicle (rather than something larger) was the main challenge.
CM: The new Transit will be a global vehicle. How did that affect the design of the interior and exterior?
Good appearance is a global constant. The differences arise in the legal or environmental requirements, so we embraced the most stringent dimensional and regional constraints. We designed the interior to be loved by the owner/driver hence the car-like and driver focussed cockpit. Obviously Transit is a hard working vehicle and although the materials used have a car-like appearance they are built to commercial vehicle specifications for durability.
CM: Transit Custom will be roughly the same dimensions as the current Transit, which struggles against some vehicles in its class on loadspace and payload. Have any changes been made to the cargo area?
We improved the functionality of the cargo area, we lifted the tie-downs from the floor – protecting cargo as it is slid in and out of the van. We improved the shape of the bulkhead to enable us to package three [rather than two] euro pallets. We also have included a floor level hatch in the bulkhead that opens to expose additional stowage under the passenger dual seats enabling the carrying of long items like lengths of copper pipe.
Read the full exclusive interview with Paul Campbell in the print edition of Commercial Motor 19 April.