Ford's Econoline van will be getting a sheet metal update. Photo: BlueOvalNews.
Remember full-size vans? Ford does. Their E-Series (Econoline) van racked up 179,543 sale last year - it was their strongest sales year since selling 187,027 Econoline vans in 2000.
In comparison to Ford, Chevy sold a total of 127,585 G-Series vans in 2005 while Dodge sold only 19,578 Sprinter vans, although, the Sprinter vans are not widely available yet. Ford's sales figures easily make the Econoline the most popular van in North America.
The full-size van market is often neglected in terms of product freshening due to a general lack of competition. The current Econoline's exterior design for example, has been virtually un-changed since it was introduced in 1992. But that will soon change as Ford implements a new grille design, which features horizontal bars. The grille design is inspired by Ford's Fusion.
The new Econoline was spotted in Dearborn, Michigan wearing a camouflage mask on the front end. The above picture clearly shows that Ford will change the grille, headlamps and corner lamps. The new Econoline will take styling cues from Ford's upcoming F-Series Super Duty.
The Econoline should appear in 2007, along with the anticipated, new 6.4L Powerstroke diesel engine.
OHIO ASSEMBLY PLANT TO CLOSE?
While a new Econoline van is exciting, other reports attached to it are not. A reliable source told BlueOvalNews that as part of Ford's Way Forward plan, the Ohio Assembly Plant (OAP) would be idled in the near future and Econoline production would be consolidated with a flex-plant. The move is intended to make Ford a leaner and more efficient auto maker. Ford recently announced that in addition to Wixom, Atlanta and St. Louis, they would also close Norfolk and the Twin Cities plants.
OAP is currently the only plant that builds the Econoline van. It was opened in 1974 and employs 1,922 people.
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