In what will likely come as a surprise to many, Ford has announced that it will build the Hackmobile Transit Connect Wagon. The vehicle was designed by a third party and was part of Ford’s Vandemonium exhibit at the 2013 SEMA show.
While no production figures or estimates were announced at the time of publication, the decision to build the Hackmobile Transit Connect was made following the results of the Ultimate Maker Vehicle Challenge contest. Presented by Ford and MAKE magazine, the contest featured 10 teams that competed to create “the ultimate Ford Transit Connect Wagon for the do-it-your-self enthusiast”.
Designed by Minneapolis and St. Paul-area residents and Twin Cities Maker members Jon Atkinson, Becca Steffen, Riley Harrison and Michael Freiert, the Hackmobile is pretty much a fabrication unit on wheels featuring tools for woodworking, metalworking, and 3D fabrication. The idea behind the vehicle was to transport a three-axis CNC machine that the Hack Factory team calls The Fabber thanks to its use as a multipurpose tool in fabricating. The Hackmobile also contains shelving, storage for tools, and even height-adjustable working surfaces, making it a very versatile mobile workshop.
Twin Cities Maker is a nonprofit community organization that operates a shop called the Hack Factory where members work on projects using various materials and holds classes for the community.
The Ultimate Maker Vehicle Challenge contained 10 contestants who were given a budget and specific design and build criteria to work with before submitting their proposals. The teams were “encouraged to define a particular vision for the ultimate do-it-yourself Ford Transit Connect Wagon”. The ten resulting vehicles were rolled out during SEMA, with Ford calling the exhibit Vandemonium.
To determine the winner of the challenge, members of the public were allowed to vote once a day for as few or as many entries as they liked, judging the concepts based on overall design and customization, as well as maker spirit. MAKE magazine will award the Hackmobile design team $10,000 as the grand prize, while runner-up Jimmy Diresta will be given $2,500.
The contest demonstrates the general versatility of the all-new 2014 Ford Transit Connect, which goes on sale early 2014 in the U.S. after being named the 2014 International Van of the Year. It will be available in two distinct models — the traditional panel-side hauler cargo van and the all-new wagon model that’s essentially the same model but sliding doors and flexible, fold-flat seating for up to seven, thereby meant for carrying people rather than cargo.
In a news release, Ford also mentioned that the DIY challenge is part of its Makers and Movers campaign with MAKE magazine highlighting Transit Connect Wagon. “Throughout the campaign, owners who have used their talents to customize the vehicle have been showcased in stories and videos on Makezine.com. The profiles show how Ford has manufactured a vehicle that can be modified for an individual’s tastes and passions.”
The Motrolix Take
There’s something quite unique taking place with vans at Ford. Not only has The Blue Oval completely overhauled its entire van lineup, starting with the Transit Connect and going all the way up to the Transit/T-Series, but The Blue Oval has also done a wonderful job communicating the availability and value of the new offerings, with the Ultimate Maker Vehicle Challenge being a prime example. And while we don’t expect the Hackmobile to become a sales volume leader, we can only image how much buzz the decision to make it will generate for Ford in the circles where such publicity matters. Good work, Ford. Good work, indeed.