AMSTERDAM - Ford will launch an all-new Transit light commercial vehicle in late 1999.
Ford sources say the new Transit will share platform elements with the Mondeo and will be front-wheel driven. The current model is rear-wheel drive.
Ford executives here would not confirm the change.
The new version is expected to offer a wider range of payloads and dimensions. 'But its core role will remain commercial,' said Gurminder Bedi, vice president of Ford's Truck Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan, in the USA.
The Transit has long been Europe's best-selling commercial vehicle below 3.5 tonnes.
Engineering work is being led in Dearborn under the company's Ford 2000 global strategy.
'The fact that the drawings are made in Dearborn is not significant,' said Bedi. 'Most of the actual development is carried out in Europe, since 90 percent of our volume is sold there.'
He said that Europe will remain the main production center.
'All suppliers are based in the UK and continental Europe,' he said. 'But we sell in 60 different countries and want to expand in new markets like China, Turkey, Vietnam and Belarus.'
Bedi said that Ford is developing a new diesel engine range for the Transit with common-rail technology.