ford transit connect family one concept 013Enlarge Photo
Smaller than a classic minivan - and therefore more affordable and efficient - the vehicle also offers more space than a typical hatch or wagon.
Pricing for the Transit Connect, aimed at commercial applications and due in the U.S. next year, starts at just $21,475, so the up-featured Family One could be expected to stay well beneath the $30,000 mark if built. With seating for five and 135cu ft of cargo room, the Family One also delivers car-like fuel efficiency at 22mpg city and 25mpg highway.
The designers spent a lot of time making the car attractive to both kids and their parents. “For children, the conceptual intent of the vehicle is to be as engaging and entertaining when parked as it is on the go,” said Ford Designer Chiwei Lee. “The Family One easily transitions from functional family mobility to ‘base camp’ when the coolest mom puts the shift lever into the park position.”
The 'base camp' Lee is talking about is the spacious second-row seating, easy in-out access and roomy rear cargo area, all making for play areas when stationary. The rear inner door panels, for instance, can be written on with wipeable water-pens, while a projection screen allows digital video entertainment. For more on-the-go use, the van also offers hand sanitizer and sunscreen dispensers, a set of rechargeable walkie-talies and a pair of door-mounted scooters.
To keep the kids from getting separated, there's a RFID tracking system. The same system can also keep track of key items, like sporting goods or equipment, that can easily be left behind. Finally, for safety, the in-dash computer system can alert the driver if a child seat is not properly attached.
There are no definite plans to build the concept yet, but the opportunities are obvious with tough new CAFE standards on the way for the 2011 model year.