Another carmaker enters the electric vehicle market -- AM General LLC will do the final assembly of Ford Motor Co.'s electric Transit Connect commercial vans while Azure Dynamics will make the electric driving system.
These vans are set to go on sale next spring. AM General, which is based in South Bend, Ind., is known for its having done the work on military Humvees and Hummers.
The engine-less Transit Connects will be shipped from a factory in Turkey to AM General's Michigan facility, where workers will install Azure's electric system.
A $1.3 million state tax credit for the project was granted to Azure Dynamics, which is headquartered in Oak Park, Mich. This project is estimated to create 83 jobs. This isn't AM General's first foray into the electric vehicle segment. Back in 1975, it built 350 electric Jeeps for the US Postal Service.
AM General spokeswoman Celeste Ross said that just recently, the company designed prototype electric Humvees for the US military and vans that run on compressed natural gas. Nonetheless, AM General made a remarkable switch in direction.
Until early last year, AM General had been making Hummers for General Motors Co. It's ironic that Hummer itself had fallen due to consumers growing preference for environment-friendly cars.
General Motors Co. failed to find a buyer for Hummer and so the brand is now being phased out. Rick Smith, president of AM General's commercial business segment, said that the company is pleased to participate in the car industry's advancements in alternative energy.
The electric Transit Connect, which is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack, appears just like the regular version of the delivery van. Azure claims that this will be among the first fully electric vehicles to be offered to the commercial market.