Courtesy Ford Motor Co.
The new Ford Transit next year will begin replacing the aging E-Series contractor van.

Ford Motor Co. has taken the first wraps off its new Transit commercial van, which will begin replacing the aging E-Series van lineup next year in North America.

The Euro-styled, unibody, rear-drive Transit, unveiled Sept. 6 in Amsterdam, will provide at least 25% more fuel economy than the body-on-frame E-Series, Ford says. The company plans to offer the sleek-looking van with short and long wheelbases, varying roof heights and a 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine—a popular seller with the F-150 half-ton pickup truck—as well as diesel power.

Previous versions of the Ford Transit have been in production worldwide since 1965, with more than six million units sold. However, next year will be the first time buyers will be able to get one in North America.

Ford has not disclosed its production schedule for the North American Transit but says it will be built in 2013 alongside the F-150 in the manufacturer's assembly plant near Kansas City, Mo.

The E-Series has been the top-selling van in North America for more than three decades. Formerly known as the Econoline, the E-Series is a favorite workhorse among countless plumbers, electricians and painters, with more than eight million units sold since the 1960s.

Ford officials believe Transit will quickly win them over, starting with its increased fuel economy.

"You can expect to have operating costs that are significantly lower than an E-Series," Mike Levine, Ford spokesman, told ENR. "It is a more comfortable van to be in, it has a better ride, and with multiple roof heights, you can get your equipment in the back and stand up," he added.

Ford has also introduced its second-generation Transit Connect, a small work van that started shipping to the States in 2009. A look at the new version can be found here.

More details on the larger Transit, such as specifications and options, will come later when the van officially launches in North America, Ford says.