Vandemonium: This Is Why the Ford Transit Van Is so Darn Popular
From luxury shuttle services to law enforcement, the Ford Transit is the best-selling cargo van in the world.
When Ford decided to replace its longtime workhorse, the E-Series van, with the multi-faceted Transit, an entirely new world of opportunities opened up for businesses of all shapes and sizes. To highlight exactly what a business can do with a Transit van, Ford invited the very same companies who customize these vans to its world headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, just outside of Detroit. There, these "upfitters," as they call them, boasted what their products can do and how the Blue Oval is continuously fostering a relationship with them.
The event itself was cleverly dubbed "Vandemonium," and it gave me the opportunity to explore the world of commercial vans and understand why so many upfitters ranging from luxury shuttle services to prisoner transport vans choose the Ford Transit.
First I spoke with of Brent Kline of VanDoIt, builder of outdoor adventure vehicles, about his Transit business and why he prefers them. As it turns out, he leases all different types of vans and has experience with Transit's biggest competitors: the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, the Nissan NV, and the Ram ProMaster.
"It's the dealer network," Kline quickly highlighted as his biggest motivator. Compared to Mercedes-Benz, the amount of Ford dealerships in the United States is significantly higher. He also shared with me that Ford dealerships can work on all Transits, even ones that have been already modified by upfitters. If a customer has an issue, it's easier and faster to get it fixed than with the competition's vans.
Kline also told us the Transit van is more "upfit friendly." Fewer modifications are needed to the structure of the van to accommodate his modifications, a common thread I heard all day from owners, meaning the vans are safer and require less custom work. This also means that plumbers, construction workers, shuttle operators, and delivery companies have to worry less about upfit compatibility.
Mike Cormack from Sherrod Vans also shared with me about the company's luxury conversions and its customers. Some of the clients that reach out to the Georgia-based company are looking for a big SUV, like a new Expedition or Navigator, but want something with a more cargo space or something that drives more like a car. They end up in one of the company's Transit conversions.
I exchanged words with Cormack while lounging on a fancy-looking, leather-wrapped captain chair inside one of his luxury-converted Transits. When pressed on price, Cormack said that specific van, which seats just as many as an Expedition but with more comfortable seats and better entertainment, costs less than the Expedition. It's a compelling alternative for a lot of business owners.
Ford's Transit is the best-selling cargo van in the world, and with a strong network of upfitter support, it's easy to see why it rules the segment.