Online Shopping Growth Defines Ford Transit’s Business Impact In Its 50th Year

  • Transport for online shopping is boosting the multi‑billion pound annual contribution by van-dependent businesses
  • Ford commissioned the Centre for Economics and Business Research to understand today’s economic impact of vans, led by the iconic Transit since 1965
  • Online shopping, plus trades such as painting, plumbing and plastering, drive increased van use
  • Together with sectors relying on vans – building, maintenance/repair, utilities and transport – more than £120 billion injected into the UK economy yearly
  • Ford Transit is Britain’s top commercial vehicle brand – this year set to pass 2,500,000 total UK sales in 50 years


A half century after Ford introduced the iconic Transit, commercial vans still make a significant and growing economic contribution, according to a new study.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research report shows that van-dependent businesses contributed a total of £415 billion to the major economies of France, Germany, and Britain in 2014 – including £120 billion to the UK economy, an increase of 16 per cent compared with 2010 and an amount approaching the overall economy of Switzerland.

Ford commissioned the report to understand the impact of commercial vans on today’s 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 ongoing demand from 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. “As our economy changes and evolves – with shifts to online shopping for example – demand for Transit is only rising.”

The rapid growth of online commerce has contributed to a continuing increase in the number of working vans, evidenced by Ford van sales tracking over 27 per cent up on a year ago.  The four-vehicle Transit range – spanning the compact Transit Courier, Transit Connect, Transit Custom to jumbo two-tonne Transit – accounts for one in four new commercial vehicles sold in the UK this year.

Since the Ford Transit’s introduction in 1965, over 2,500,000 Transit vans will have been registered in this country by the end of its 50th year on sale.  The top-selling UK van for all 50 years, Ford Transit has become one of the world’s most popular commercial vehicles, with almost 8,000,000 vans built. Lined up end-to-end, those Transits would circle the globe.

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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.

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 UK, 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 UK, and 187,000 in France.

With its expanded four-model line-up, Transit has helped to make Ford the second best-selling commercial vehicle brand in Europe in the first six months of 2015, up from number seven in 2012, with sales 33 per cent higher than the prior year.

Van sales and usage also have been boosted by the birth of many new small businesses, in the UK 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 UK 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 UK, van drivers covered 64 billion miles last year, up by 20 per cent compared with 2008, generating more than £5 billion in fuel duty.

More on Transit’s 50th at

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