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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Concept minivans are not the answer


We would all like to see Ford and the other two-thirds of the big three bounce back, but it’s hard to reserve the hope that it will happen any time soon with ridiculous concepts like Ford’s new, “Transit Connect Family One Concept." If the name were not enough to confuse consumers, the amount of useless gimmickry Ford stuffed into this awkward looking minivan-pipe dream surely would be if it ever saw release. 

At first sight, the Family One appears to be some sort of panel van from the future crossed with the multi-colored Macintosh computers of years past. 

Car and Driver called it, “The perfect vehicular solution for the small, forgetful and disorganized family.” Really? These are several of the “solutions” the Family One has to offer: 

Scooters – They’re attached to the inside of the split rear cargo doors.

Sunscreen/Supergerm-enhancing hand sanitizer – Integrated into the cargo bay. 

Awning – erects from the back of the van to provide shade.

Walkie-talkies (for the kids) – Kept in the recharge rack.

Sounds charming enough, but these are all items that could be brought along in even the most dilapidated Ford Aerostar. Throw the scooters and a large sun umbrella in the cargo space, drop some sunscreen/hand sanitizer in one of the various storage compartments and keep track of the kids over the family plan cell phones that fit comfortably into their pockets. You don't need a concept van to make it happen. 

But that’s not the worst of it. The Family One also comes with Ford’s Work Solutions System normally used in their commercial vans. For families, it’s now called, “The Family Works Package”. It uses RFID tags to track sports equipment, backpacks, musical instruments and anything else a kid destined to live in their parents’ basement would need a tracking device attached to. 

The van’s computer uses algorithms to identify items it thinks are missing, as Car & Driver Describes it, “taking the onus of personal responsibility off of your children.”

For parents as dangerously incompetent as their wee ones, the Works Package can monitor child-safety seats in the van and alert the driver if they are improperly installed or tensioned. 

This feature I can agree with, because most parents I know usually just strap their kids into a safety seat and throw the whole bundle somewhere between the captains chairs in a valium haze before heading off to the grocery store. 

Really Ford? The Transit Connect Family One Concept?

When times are good and Americans want a concept van they go ahead and make one of their own; they’re called custom vans and all it takes to manufacture one is a run down Chevy, a bong and some shag carpet. We’ve been doing it since the 70’s and it’s no secret. 

Now, times are not good. Maybe Ford should be focusing a bit harder on producing some practical vehicles to pull their company out of the gutter instead of burning through money with they’re own half-baked concoctions. 

Right now we need concept cars that are practical. 



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