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As Iconic Ford Transit Turns 50, New Study Shows Vans Remain €580 Billion Backbone of European Economy

  • A new report commissioned on the 50th anniversary of the iconic Ford Transit shows that commercial vans remain a critical backbone of commerce in Europe
  • Sectors that rely on vans, such as building, maintenance/repair, utilities and transport, last year delivered more than €580 billion in France, Germany, and the U.K. alone, according to the Ford commissioned study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research
  • Significant growth in shopping online; trades such as painting, plumbing and plastering; and traditional Transit businesses also drive increasing van use
  • Ford is Europe’s No. 2 commercial vehicle brand, with a range of four Transit vehicles; Transit sales have risen 33 per cent so far this year

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A half century after Ford Motor Company introduced the iconic Transit, commercial vans continue to make a significant and growing contribution to the European economy, according to a new study.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research report shows that van-dependent businesses contributed a total of €584 billion to the major economies of France, Germany, and the U.K. in 2014 – an increase of 16 per cent compared with 2010, and an amount approaching the overall economy of Switzerland.

Ford commissioned the report to better understand the impact of commercial vans on today’s European economy. The report highlights continuing growth in usage, driven by transport for online shopping and newly-created businesses in trades like painting, plumbing and plastering; and traditional van-based industries like building, maintenance/repair, utilities and transport.

“Most people see the Transits and other work vans on the road every day and don’t realize how vital they are for business at large, as well as the overall economy,” said Barb Samardzich, chief operating officer, Ford of Europe. “Even as our economy changes and evolves – with shifts to online shopping for example – the demand for Transit vans is only rising.”

In Germany – Europe’s largest economy – the online shopping sector grew by 25 per cent year‑on-year in 2014, and is forecast to grow a further 23 per cent during 2015. In 2014 shoppers in Poland and Spain spent 23 per cent and 20 per cent more online respectively than during the previous year.

This rapid growth has contributed to a continuing increase in the number of working vans, and has strengthened the market for new vans in Europe’s key markets.  French drivers operate the most vans, with 5.2 million vehicles registered in 2014, followed by 4.6 million in Spain, 3.8 million in Italy, 3.5 million in the U.K., 2.7 million in Poland and 2.3 million in Germany. Poland shows the greatest increase amongst the top six nations, up 85 per cent since 2000. Sales of medium vans like Transit are strongest in Germany, with 281,000 vehicles registered in 2014, followed by 231,000 in the U.K., and 187,000 in France.

With its expanded four-model line-up, Transit has helped to make Ford the No. 2 selling commercial vehicle brand in Europe in the first six months of 2015, up from No. 7 in 2012, with sales up 33 per cent over the prior year.

Van sales and usage also have been boosted by the birth of many new small businesses, in the U.K. especially, following the financial crisis. For example, construction trades like painting, plastering and plumbing have shown rapid growth, with more than 24,000 new businesses established in 2013, 30 per cent more than in 2010.

In addition, the Centre for Economics and Business Research – which produces reports for the U.K. government – reveals that major economic benefits from van usage extends beyond the direct business impact, such as through the tax contribution to public finances. In the U.K., van drivers covered 102 billion kilometres during 2014, up by 20 per cent compared with 2008, generating more than €7 billion in fuel duty.

The Ford Transit has become one of the world’s most popular commercial vehicles, with approaching 8 million vans built. Lined up end-to-end, those Transits would circle the globe.

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Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Michigan manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 194,000 employees and 66 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit

Ford of Europe

is responsible for producing, selling and servicing Ford brand vehicles in 50 individual markets and employs approximately 53,000 employees at its wholly owned facilities and approximately 67,000 people when joint ventures and unconsolidated businesses are included. In addition to Ford Motor Credit Company, Ford Europe operations include Ford Customer Service Division and 23 manufacturing facilities (15 wholly owned or consolidated joint venture facilities and 8 unconsolidated joint venture facilities). The first Ford cars were shipped to Europe in 1903 – the same year Ford Motor Company was founded. European production started in 1911.

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