Ford Motor Company and Azure Dynamics have begun shipping the first Ford Transit Connect Electrics to early customers in North America and to the United Kingdom for a demonstration project.
Transit Connect Electric is the first product in the Ford accelerated electrified vehicle plan, and will be followed by the Focus Electric passenger car in 2011, along with a plug-in hybrid electric and two next-generation lithium-ion battery-powered hybrid vehicles in 2012. Earlier in 2010, we took a ride in the Transit Connect Electric with Praveen Cherian, program manager for the vehicle. You can click here to read more and watch the video to come along on the ride.
The all-electric commercial vans, built on the Ford Transit Connect vehicle body, equipped with Azure Dynamics’ patented Force Drive™ battery electric powertrain, and assembled by AM General at its facility in Livonia, Michigan, are reaching the market 13 months after the collaboration to develop the zero-emission vehicle was first announced.
To date, all initial units have designated customers. Azure Dynamics’ LEAD customer program includes seven companies that are taking delivery of their first units in 2010, with the remainder of their orders to be filled in 2011. Customers that have been previously announced include AT&T, Southern California Edison, Xcel Energy, Johnson Controls Inc., New York Power Authority, Canada Post and Toronto Atmospheric Fund EV300. Additional LEAD customers will be identified by the end of the year.
Ford first announced the collaboration in October 2009, with an agreement for Azure Dynamics to upfit the Transit Connect van with Azure’s Force Drive battery electric drivetrain technology including Johnson Controls-Saft’s advanced lithium-ion battery, and a commitment to deliver the initial vehicles by the end of 2010 to the North American market. Initial production began in the fourth quarter of 2010 with full production of the Transit Connect Electric slated to ramp up in April 2011.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation provided incentive funding for Azure Dynamics to encourage selection of a Michigan-based partner for final assembly. Azure chose AM General LLC, to produce the Transit Connect Electric in its facility in Livonia. AM General, a long-established contract vehicle assembler and services provider, is responsible for final upfit of the Transit Connect Electric.
The all-electric, zero-emissions Transit Connect Electric has a driving range of up to 80 miles per full charge and is ideal for fleet owners who have well-defined routes of predictable distances and a central location for daily recharging. Delivery fleet and utility vehicle operators have begun to show a preference for smaller, more efficient vehicles, which creates an ideal time for Transit Connect Electric to come to market.
Owners will have the option of recharging Transit Connect Electric with either a standard 120-volt outlet, or preferably a 240-volt charge station, typically installed at the user’s base of operations for optimal recharging in six to eight hours. A transportable cord that works with both types of outlets will be available for convenient recharging at either voltage.
In addition to delivery of units to LEAD customers in North America, the Transit Connect Electric commercial van is headed to the United Kingdom, where 14 of the vehicles will take part in the government’s Ultra-Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator program. The program, supported by Scottish and Southern Energy, utilizes a fleet of zero-emissions vehicles for the energy company, with designated drivers to test vehicle and infrastructure technology.