The all-new Ford Transit family is being extended with the addition of a low-floor, front-wheel drive range of vans and chassis cabs.

The vehicle will be the first front-wheel drive model in Transit's 35-year history, and will create a new standard in class. Front and rear-wheel drive Transit (which was introduced earlier this year) have an amazing 95 percent commonality between their base platforms. That means significant cost benefits to operators with mixed fleets.

The engineering of a common base platform for both front and rear-wheel drive models was one of the toughest challenges facing the Transit team. Not only did the engine bay need to accept east/west as well as north/south installation, but the structure had to accommodate front and rear-wheel drive.

Customer benefits of front-wheel drive Transit include:

* Traction and pull-away are enhanced with the engine weight over the driving wheels, especially when carrying light loads.

* High levels of driving quality with nimble and responsive handling dynamics particularly suitable for town usage. The versatility of three wheelbases and three roof heights.

For operators in the one-tonne segment, front-wheel drive Transit brings a lower load floor, which means more cube space. A low-floor configuration also makes it easier for operators to load and unload without the aid of a forklift.

Mike Platts, Ford of Britain Commercial Vehicle Brand Manager said: "The introduction of the front-wheel drive derivative of the new Ford Transit will provide the customer with the largest range of commercial vehicles in Europe. The range will also provide the customer with an outstanding cost of ownership package."

The all-new Transit family - front and rear-wheel drive - benefits from a range of innovations designed for maximum functionality and minimum cost of ownership. Key aspects of new Transit include:

* Durability, strength and quality over a long life.

* Low cost of ownership.

* Largest choice wheelbases, roof heights, load lengths and body styles in the industry.

* New medium wheelbase version, expanding the choice to three wheelbases and four load lengths.

* New cube design for the loadbox, adding space for an extra euro-pallet on all wheelbases and reduced 'tumblehome' (less tapering of sides towards roofline) allowing more interior flexibility.

* Three-piece front bumper for ease of repair and minimum downtime.

* Lock-in-latch security (an industry first)

* 15,000 mile service intervals.

* 3 year/100,000 mile warranty

The Ford Transit is European market leader and has been UK market leader in the medium commercial segment for the last 34 years. In the recent What Van? 2000 Awards the all-new Ford Transit took top gold award in three categories: Best Large Panel Van, Best Security and the overall award for Van of the Year 2000.