Ford ups outdoor versatility with Flexibus light camper van
When we said that manufacturers have been gunning for the Volkswagen Beach, we didn't realize Ford was on the verge of being next in line. It dropped a new light camper van of its own at this year's Dusseldorf Caravan Salon. Called the Flexibus, the sporty leisure vehicle packs sleeping space for up to four people but leaves the other camper furniture at the factory, maintaining an open interior with versatile floor rails. By keeping it light and basic, Ford holds the price down and lets buyers write their own adventures.
It's not hard to understand why sleeper vans are popular. Those who are upgrading from tent camping probably already have a floor-to-ceiling storage shelf filled with camping stoves, water canisters, storage boxes, and myriad other camping gadgets and gizmos. They don't really need the redundancy that a full camper van with kitchen brings in those departments but just want a warmer, sturdier and easier place to spend the night. The sleeper van brings exactly what they want without equipment they don't need and don't want to pay for. It's a nice 'tweener option for those types of campers, and also for buyers who want the advantages of a camping vehicle without giving up the space and flexibility of an everyday MPV.
With the new Flexibus, Ford delivers that experience with added value. In 2016, it introduced the Euroline sleeper van based on the Tourneo Custom Trend MPV. The Flexibus takes a very similar approach as the Euroline, albeit on a Ford Transit Custom cargo van basis to cut pricing. It's the same strategy Mercedes-Benz uses with the V-Class-based Marco Polo Horizon and Vito-based Marco Polo Activity.
As with the Euroline, Ford teams up with the professional van equipment outfitters at Sortimo, who provide the floor rails that create the foundation for the Flexibus' super-versatile interior. Buyers can use these rails to equip the van as they desire and change it back and forth between configurations in their garage.
The Flexibus is available with sleeping space for up to four people with available folding cabin and pop-up roof beds. The floor rails can also be used strictly for transporting purposes, whether that means people sitting in the adjustable seats or bicycles, surfboards and other gear secured down via racks or tie-downs. An available table also mounts to the floor rails, expanding via two folding panels to offer a space for dining, work or leisure activities.
Looking at the Flexibus versus the Euroline, it's easy to spot the difference between the Transit Custom base and the Tourneo Custom. The vans share the same platform, but the interior of the Transit is definitely colder and more cargo van-like, while the Tourneo Custom Trend has a passenger vehicle interior with softer trim and added features.
Ford intends to offer the Flexibus as a customize-it-yourself van, allowing customers to pick and choose the equipment they want for the interior. Prices will vary as much as layout, and Ford didn't include a detailed pricing sheet when introducing the Flexibus, saying merely that the base Transit Custom starts at €35,200 (approx. US$38,875). The Flexibus is available in both short and long wheelbase versions with engines ranging between 105 and 185 hp.
Source: Ford (German)