The last of the classic model Ford Transit, a bus derivative, was driven off the production line at Ford's Southampton plant Friday (21/07/00). This will make way for the all-new Ford Transit short and medium wheelbase models which the plant will start to build in the late summer.

The Ford Transit bus will be donated by the plant to the Mansbridge Minibus Association, a local charity organisation, members of which will be on hand to join in the celebrations and to pick up their new vehicle. Another Ford Transit will be donated to a local school or charity through a prize draw. Applicants will write into the plant, all of the entries will be collated and the winner will be drawn from among them.

Southampton has been building Ford Transits since 1972 and has now produced over 1.5 million. Ford has invested over £600 million in the plant, since opening. There has been substantial investment to prepare the plant for the new model, which includes £36 million on a state of the art paint shop and over £700,000 for a new Partnership Training Centre.

Commenting on the new production at the Southampton Plant, Vin May, Plant Manager at Southampton, said: "The production of the all-new Ford Transit at Southampton is great news for both the people at the plant and for the local community. As the word Transit has become synonymous with a van of this size, so Southampton has become synonymous with the Transit product." Ford Motor Company Limited has had a manufacturing presence at Southampton for over 40 years. The plant employs approximately 1,750 staff and produces between 60,000 and 70,000 vehicles a year. The Ford Transit has now been market leader of the medium commercial vehicle market for over 34 years holding a market share of over 30 per cent.