FORD Motor Company displayed the results of its billion-dollar retooling of its Kansas City plant during a special press event June 4 and 5.

Knapheide Manufacturing also participated in the event, demonstrating its ability to upfit the output of the Ford plant with commercial equipment.

The Kansas City plant has begun production on the Transit, the European inspired van that the company is building to replace the E-Series.  The Transit will be offered as a van, cutaway, and chassis cab.

While Ford will continue to offer Class 3 and 4 E-Series cutaway and stripped chassis through the end of this decade, the Transit will fill a broad spectrum of the E-Series applications—along with some new ones resulting from substantial increases in headroom and cargo capacity. 

The Transit, which Ford introduced in Europe in 1965, is currently sold in 118 markets on six continents.  The 2015 version that Ford will build and market domestically will be offered in two wheelbases (130 inches and 148 inches) and three roof heights.  The high-roof Transit provides 81.5 inches of maximum interior cargo height, enough to allow a person 6-feet-8 inches tall to stand upright in the cargo area.  As a result, the Transit van provides up to 487 cubic feet of cargo volume and 4,650 pounds of maximum payload capacity—75% more than the larges E-Series.  

Maximum payload increases more than 600 pounds across the Transit van lineup versus comparable E-Series vans.  maximum towing capacity is 7,600 pounds.

Ford has invested $1.1 billion to retool and expand the facility for Transit production. Expansion projects include the addition of a 437,000-square-foot stamping facility and a 78,000-square-footpaint shop that will employ the three-wet and two-wet monocoat paint processes. Both processes are more environmentally friendly and take less time than conventional paint processes.

The investment has also contributed to close to 550 new robots in the body shop, more than 700 new assembly tools in trim and chassis, and 18 new conveyor systems totaling 5,565 feet.

The press event included a stop at Knapheide’s ship-through operation.  The 103,000-sq-ft facility is part of the SubTropolis a massive industrial park carved out of a limestone hill in the Kansas City area.