The statisticians at Ford of Britain have been busy. They have – perhaps unwittingly – unearthed a price statistic that may cause some to gasp.


First, a statistic that won’t cause too much surprise.


A Ford Transit van purchased today costs less in real terms than it did back in 1995 (you remember pre-Web 1995, don’t you? – Ford showed its third gen ovoid Taurus at Detroit, Shaggy was decidedly Boombastic in the pop charts and Toy Story wowed us with its cutting edge CGI).


Okay, a van costing less today than in ’95 is an achievement, but it shouldn’t cause you to fall off your chair with amazement.


We know all about the industry becoming more efficient and the constant competitive pressures. And yes, today’s Transit is not only cheaper than 1995’s but it’s much better specified and, of course, a much improved product all round. And that applies to most of the big European OEMs’ van offerings, in fact.


The Ford press release informs us that the 1995 base model, short wheelbase Transit with a 900kg payload started out at GBP12,270, equivalent to GBP17,001.95 using the latest 2007 retail price index figures. But a similar 2009 Transit model costs just GBP14,920. Also, to specify the 1995 model up to today’s standard model you would have had to spend a further GBP3,860 on optional extras. And the 2009 base model comes with air bags, ABS, power steering and is just a much better product. Well done, Ford.


But here’s the thing. The press release contains the obligatory quote from the relevant executive and it just casually slips in a stunning stat right out of left-field:


Steve Kimber, commercial vehicles director, Ford of Britain said: “A loaf of bread cost seven pence in 1995, today it is more than 17 times dearer. With vans, customer expectations in terms of driver comfort and safety have risen considerably since 1995 but the price hasn’t. I can’t think of a better value proposition for a van that is still the best business partner you can buy.”


Did you spot what caused eyebrows to be raised here? A loaf of bread is apparently 17 times (yes, 17 times!) more expensive now than it was back then. It’s perhaps a rather curious comparison, a loaf of bread and a Ford Transit, but Ford wins this particular contest hands-down.


Now, if that price trend were to continue at the same rate, how long would it be before the Ford Transit employed as a baker’s bread van is worth less than its cargo?