Ford Announces Van Upgrades
February 2008, TruckingInfo.com - Feature
A redesigned interior for Ford's E series full-size vans includes a new dashboard, instrument panel and console with increased storage and electronics options.
In-dash PC for E vans and F series pickups allows online access via Sprint Broadband service and on-site printing of work sheets and invoices, among other things.
The upgrades will be built into 2009 cargo and passenger vans with this summer's model-year changeover and should be available to customers beginning in August.
The builder meanwhile announced an array of "Ford Work Solutions" ranging from an in-dash personal computer and other electronic telematics options to a stout but simple cable lock to secure tools in pickups or vans. The features will be available on several '09-models trucks.
The new E series interior complements the bold exterior restyling applied to '08-model vans and together add value to what have been America's best-selling full-size vans for the last 29 years, executives proclaimed. Among the redesign's features are wider-opening rear doors with easily operated detents; more comfortable seats; additional storage in doors and elsewhere; built-in auxiliary switches that users can customize; an optional navigation system; and a back-up camera.
Redesigned door trim panels feature integrated second-bin compartments, and a retention strap helps secure items in the driver's door. The instrument panel has a new storage tray above the passenger air bag. The center console doubles the usable storage space of the previous version - and now includes three larger cup holders that can accommodate a wider variety of cup/mug sizes, an integrated clipboard holder and space for a laptop PC. A new glove box that provides still more storage and a second power point.
The four auxiliary switches on the dashboard are tied to a more efficient wiring harness, which make it easier for upfitters to integrate aftermarket features such as extra lighting. An optional audio input jack on the instrument panel that connects E-Series to MP3 players and other portable audio devices.
A new message center available in E-Series vans and wagons that features standard vehicle maintenance information as well as miles-to-empty and fuel economy numbers. The message center is standard on vans equipped with the 6-liter Power Stroke diesel and includes an engine-hour meter that keeps a running total of engine use, even during idling.
An optional Reverse Camera System mounts a small camera at the rear of the vehicle. It's activated when the van is shifted into reverse, giving the driver a clear view behind the vehicle. The video image is displayed in a self-dimming rearview mirror or in the navigation screen on vans equipped with that option. The screen image includes centerline and colored guides, giving the driver a better perspective of the vehicle's center point and periphery.
New features and electronic technologies will make work and travel more productive and convenient for owners. So-called Ford Work Solutions will be available on 2009-model F-150 and F-SuperDuty pickups as well as E series vans, and later in the new Transit Connect minivan. They include:
* An in-dash computer developed with Magneti Marelli and powered by Microsoft Auto that provides full high-speed Internet access via the Sprint Mobile Broadband Network, and a Garmin navigation system. It's claimed to be the first broadband-capable in-dash computer in production and features available wireless accessories including a mouse and printer. This system allows customers to print invoices and access documents stored on their home or office computer networks, right on the job site.
* Tool Link, a Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) asset tracking system developed with Dewalt, the power tool manufacturer, and ThingMagic, an industry developer of embedded RFID technology. This enables customers to maintain a detailed real-time inventory of the tools or equipment stored in the vehicle, and to know whether a truck and tradesman dispatched to a specific job has the tools he needs to do it.
* Crew Chief, a fleet telematics and diagnostics system, which allows small fleet owners to efficiently manage their vehicles, quickly dispatch workers to job sites and keep detailed vehicle maintenance records.
* Cable Lock security system developed in partnership with Master Lock, the industry-leading lock manufacturer, to secure large tools or equipment in the cargo area of E-Series vans and wagons.
The Garmin navigation system will be integrated into the instrument panel with a 6.5-inch touch screen display. This and newly available Sirius satellite radio combine into form Sirius Travel Link, a collection of data services including real-time local traffic, coast-to-coast weather conditions and fuel price information for more than 120,000 gas stations.
For more information, visit www.ford.com.