When Ford Motor Co. begins building the new full-size Transit cargo and passenger van in 2013, it plans to offer a diesel powertrain as an option to the vehicle’s standard 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 gasoline engine.

Mike Levine, Ford’s truck communications manager, told Fleet Owner that no details about the Ford-supplied diesel are being released at this point – including horsepower, displacement, and number of cylinders – but that the OEM decided to offer the diesel option in response to customer feedback.

“Some customers prefer diesel, though we think the EcoBoost will offer diesel-like performance in terms of fuel economy and power,” he said. “Yet diesel is going to remain an important powertrain in the commercial truck market going forward; it’s definitely a very desirable powertrain option for full-size vans.”

Levin stressed, however, that though the Transit is slated to eventually replace the company’s E-Series van line, the E-Series continue to be available through most of the decade in North America, even after the U.S.-built Transit goes on sale.

“There’s going to be a long period of overlap between the two models,” he explained. “It won’t be a case where in one day the E-Series goes away and only the Transit remains.”

Ford also plans to widen its alternative fuel offerings for all of its truck models as well, noted Kevin Koswick, the company’s director of North American fleet, lease and remarketing operations during a speech before the Automotive Press Association in Detroit today – including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric, biodiesel, compressed natural gas (CNG) and propane.

“With fleet operators facing skyrocketing fuel prices and constant pressure to reduce costs, Ford continues to expand its range,” he noted. “By offering multiple options to help solve these challenges, Ford is giving fleet customers true power of choice in finding solutions that best meet their specific needs.”

Koswick pointed out that Ford’s entire F-Series Super Duty pickup truck and chassis cab lineup is available with gasoline, diesel, biodiesel B20 and CNG/propane-dedicated or bi-fuel capability, while Ford F-650 and F-750 medium-duty trucks can be optioned for gasoline, biodiesel or CNG/LPG operation. In addition to biodiesel and CNG/propane offerings, the 6.2-liter V8 can also be operated on E85.

E-Series full-size vans and cutaways are available with flex fuel or CNG/LPG gaseous engine prep package fuel systems upfitted via a Ford supplier, he added.

Beyond providing fleet customers with a range of fuel-efficient engine choices for vans and other vehicles, Ford said it’s also developed a specialized new tool to help optimize fleet purchases based on specific fuel types and operating locations.

Called the Vehicle Emissions and Fuel Cost Calculator, this proprietary system is designed to help fleet customers understand their current carbon footprint and to model various scenarios based on the types of vehicles they choose for their fleets – using information as vehicle type, fuel type and traffic conditions (stop-and-go city traffic or on the highway, for instance) along with the geographic region in which the car will be used to generate information about the efficiency of a fleet.