Ford introducing a $60,000 electric Transit Connect at the Chicago Auto Show

Article by Christian Andrei, on February 28, 2010

Ford Motor Co. is introducing a $60,000 electric-powered Transit Connect at the Chicago Auto Show. It is one of two niche models. The other one is a taxi model, which is aimed to appeal to taxicab operators, especially that the V-8-powered Crown Victoria sedan will be discontinued next year. Both models go into production late this year.

Assembled in Turkey, the Transit Connect is a compact, front-wheel-drive van and is one of four electrified vehicles Ford will introduce over the next two years.

In 2009, Ford sold 8,834 Transit Connect vans in the US. The Transit Connect electric goes on sale late this year. Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president for global product development, said that the Transit Connect will be joined next year by the Focus sedan electric.

In 2012, Ford will launch the next generation of hybrid vehicles, full hybrids as well as plug-in hybrids. Kuzak had disclosed these during a speaking engagement at a preview event last week in Dearborn, Mich. Doing the electric-vehicle conversion for Ford is Azure Dynamics Corp.

In addition, nonpowered versions of the van called glider, will be shipped from Turkey to an as-yet-unknown plant in Michigan. Johnson Controls-Saft's lithium ion battery technology will be used.

Ford Transit Connect Electric has long been building on the standing relationship that Ford has with Azure Dynamics and even share its experiences with Johnson Controls-Saft, its battery supplier. Ford director of Global Electrification Nancy Gioia shared that the interest in electric vehicles continues to increase and the company is firm in its commitment to bring this type of vehicles to the market.

She added that working with Azure and Johnson Controls-Saft has enabled the company to make the Ford Transit Connect, which runs on pure electricity, and offer its fleet customers with an extra choice when it comes to environment-friendly vehicles.

Azure Dynamics is headquartered in Oak Park, Michigan, and is in the business of developing hybrid electric technology and electric drive technology to be used on commercial trucks and shuttle buses. An example of this is the Balance Hybrid Electric, which is created using the Ford E-450 cutaway and a strip chassis for use of the medium-duty commercial vehicle class.

According to Scott Harrison, Azure Dynamics CEO, the chance to work on the Transit Connect Electric with Ford is a step forward for the company and in general the light-commercial vehicle market. He continued that for the company, this marks an important growth in its present relationship with Ford.

From the viewpoint of the automotive industry, the company has been noticing that more and more utility vehicle and delivery fleet operators are moving to smaller yet more fuel-efficient vehicles, added Harrison. The main patented property of Azure Dynamics is the Force Drive battery electric powertrain.

This is the same powertrain that will be inside the Ford Transit Connect Electric. Elements of the Force Drive have been implemented in more than 40 vehicle integrations and have record on-the-road experience in excess of 25 million miles.

Johnson Controls-Saft meanwhile was Azure Dynamics’ choice to supply the Ford Transit Connect Electric with the battery packs and lithium-ion battery cells. Azure Dynamics, and even Ford, continue to use battery technology from Johnson Controls-Saft on their other products.

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