The Ford Motor Co. finally has taken the wraps off the Transit Connect, its much-anticipated import tradesman/delivery van. The carlike van, built in Turkey and sold throughout Europe as a commercial vehicle, will be marketed here as a more compact, economical alternative to the manufacturer's E-Series vans.

The Transit Connect is intended to compete against the larger Sprinter van from Dodge, and the smaller HHR Panel wagon recently introduced by General Motors. In March, Ford also presented a taxicab concept based on the vehicle.

Although dealers are now taking orders, and designated upfitters are already busy importing the vehicles and transforming interiors for customers, Ford spokesmen said actual sales will not begin in the United States until mid-2009.