Ford Motor Co., the leading gasoline engine motorhome chassis supplier in North America, intends to become a bigger player in the European RV market.

In an effort to achieve that goal, Ford has introduced a new version of its Transit van, which can be used for Class B or Class C motorhomes.

A Class C motorhome on a Transit chassis, built by Germany’s Hehn Reisemobile, was displayed at Ford’s stand during the recently Caravan Salon in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Currently, Ford has a tiny European motorhome industry market share. Italy’s Fiat dominates the 50,000 units-a-year Class A and Class C chassis market and Germany’s Volkswagen dominates the Class B segment.

Fiat will ship an estimated 40,000 chassis, primarily for Class C’s, to European OEMs this year, according to several sources interviewed during Caravan Salon.

The other significant Class A and Class C chassis suppliers in Europe are the Mercedes-Benz unit of German-American auto company DaimlerChrylser and
Iveco, Fiat’s truck division.

The Transit has a new engine and transmission and is described by Ford as being “more car-like,” and, thus, more competitive in the European Class B and Class C segments.

The version of the Transit available for use as a Class C is a 3.5-ton rear-wheel drive truck with a front-mounted 2.4-litre diesel engine available with 75-, 90- or 120-hp.

There also is a 3-ton front-wheel drive version with a 2-litre engine available with an 85- or 100-hp engine that can be used for Class B’s.

Ford does not plan to make the Transit available in North America because it only has a manual transmission. A hybrid manual-automatic transmission is planned for introduction next year.