Ford Woo’s Baby Boomers and Dog Owners

By: Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press

Ford is to unveil its redesigned 2019 Transit Connect Wagon on Thursday at the Chicago Auto Show, positioning the seven-passenger vehicle as an affordable alternative to the minivan for entrepreneurs, pet owners and grandparents.

“Not everybody needs the DVD player and built-in vacuum,” said Sam Locricchio, Ford product communications manager. “You know what? We sell a lot of these bad boys.”

With a segment-exclusive diesel engine and new driver-assist technologies, the vehicle can be used to haul both passengers and cargo.

“We’re living longer. We’re working harder. We’re changing careers and people now have their own side businesses that relate to their passions, whether it’s painting or antiquing,” Locricchio said.

Karina Shaughnessy, 36, a pharmaceutical report writer from Paw Paw, said she can’t do without her 2016 Transit Connect Wagon purchased last June. “I travel a lot with our three Border Collie mixes and compete in dog sports, primarily disc (Frisbee) dog sports. So we needed something that could hold three dog crates, two adults, a 9-year-old child and all our stuff while getting great gas mileage.”

The family likes its 2011 Dodge Caravan, but the vehicle lacks needed space. So their 2012 Toyota RAV4, which “only held two dog crates,” was replaced. Other sport dog families recommended the boxy Ford.

In addition to pet owners, the Dearborn-based automaker is trying to appeal to consumers born from 1946 to 1964.

America is home to 111 million baby boomers who control a vast majority of the nation’s spending power. And one in three boomers plans to purchase a vehicle in the next three years, according to AARP.

Kevin Brown, 63, a graphic artist who lives in the Houston suburb of Nassau Bay, Texas, uses his 2013 Transit Connect Wagon to haul surfboards on weekends with his wife, deliver custom T-shirts to clients up and down the Gulf Coast and shuttle his nine grandchildren.

“Unlike most people in Texas, I don’t have much use for a pickup. Everything I carry can’t get wet. I have to keep everything dry for business,” he said. “This has dependability, comfort, fuel efficiency and whatnot. I used to drive VW buses. This has more volume and lower floorboards for loading. The doors open and just get out of the way for my dolly or whatever I have.”

The wagon, which has dual sliding doors, features standard pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection to help avoid hitting anyone who might unexpectedly cross in front of the vehicle’s path. Available adaptive cruise control automatically slows the vehicle when radar detects traffic slowing ahead. A new 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with auto start-stop comes with the all-new 8-speed automatic. Ford targets at least a 30 mpg EPA estimated highway fuel economy rating with the all-new 1.5 liter-diesel engine.

“Customers pay for what they need and not for what they don’t,” said Imran Jalal, Ford commercial vehicle brand and communications manager. “These customers are on a tight budget.”

He noted that 63% of new vehicle buyers are aged 50 to 68. And that group purchases 6.2 million vehicles annually, far more than other demographics. Ford is looking at a market of 17 million drivers over 50 during the next decade.

“Baby boomers are the first generation that regularly changes careers after age 50,” Jalal said. “That means they may want to convert their vehicle from a people mover to a cargo van for small businesses.”

The vehicle has voice mail, e-mail, text, Bluetooth, GPS and voice dialing capabilities.

“Everybody’s on the go. We never stop,” said Tim Stoehr, Ford general fleet marketing manager. “You need connectivity to remain competitive.”

The 2019 Transit Connect Wagon has up to 2,000 pounds of towing capacity with the available tow package, and a better payload than a diesel-powered Ram 1500 traditional pickup, he said.

“This is for baby boomers moving into a new phase of life,” Stoehr said.

Rebecca Lindland, executive analyst at Cox Automotive, said the Transit Connect Wagon is ideal for a do-it-yourselfer.

“This applies to a part of the market that’s underserved,” she said. “You can go with a pickup truck, but there’s not really a similar product from other manufacturer in the market.”

While a price has not been revealed, Ford promised that it would be one of the most affordable seven-passenger vehicles in the United States with more cargo volume behind the first row than a Chevy Tahoe.

The Ford Transit Connect Wagon is built in Valencia, Spain.

Published by CityFella

Big city fella, Born and Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lived in New York (a part time New Yorker) for three years . I have lived in the Sacramento area since 1993. When I first moved here, I hated it. Initially found the city too conservative for my tastes. A great place to raise children however too few options for adults . The city has grown up, there is much to do here. The city suffers from low self esteem in my opinion, locals have few positive words to say about their hometown. visitors and transplants are amazed at what they find here. From, the grand old homes in Alkali Flats, and the huge trees in midtown, there are many surprises in Sacramento. Theater is alive is this area . And finally ,there is a nightlife... In.downtown midtown, for the young and not so young. My Criticism is with local government. There is a shortage of visionaries in city hall. Sacramento has long relied on the state, feds and real estate for revenue. Like many cities in America,Downtown Sacramento was the hub of activity in the area. as the population moved to the suburbs and retail followed. The city has spent millions to revive downtown. Today less than ten thousand people live downtown. No one at city hall could connect the dots. Population-Retail. Business says Sacramento is challenging and many corporations have chosen to set up operations outside the cities limits. There is vision in the burbs. Sacramento has bones, there are many good pieces here, leaders seem unable or unwilling to put those pieces together into. Rant aside, I love it here. From the trees to the rivers. But its the people here that move me. Sacramento is one of the most integrated cities in America. I find I'm welcome everywhere. The spices work in this city of nearly 500,000 and for the most part these spices blend well together. From Ukrainians to Hispanics and a sizable gay community, all the spices seem to work well here. I frequently travel and occasionally I will venture into a city with huge racial borders, where its unsafe to visit after certain hours. I haven't found it here. I cant imagine living in a community where there is one hue or one spice. I love the big trees, Temple Coffee House, the Alhambra Safeway, Zelda's Pizza, Bicyclist in Midtown, The Mother Lode Saloon, Crest Theater, and the Rivers. I could go on and I might. Sacramento is home.

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