Ford Motor Company unveiled the all-electric version of the Ford Transit Connect – the 2010 North American Truck of the Year – at the Chicago Auto Show and confirmed the zero-emissions small van will be in fleet operators’ hands later this year.
The 2011 Transit Connect Electric will use a Force Drive electric powertrain manufactured and integrated by Azure Dynamics who has built electric delivery truck drive systems for the U.S. Post Office, Purolator Courier, and Fed Ex.
Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development, said, “Not only is this an ideal vehicle for eco-conscious fleet operators, it is an important part of Ford’s future.”
In addition to the Transit Connect Electric, Ford will sell the Focus Electric in 2011 and Plug-in Hybrid 2012.
Transit Connect Electric is well-suited for fleets that travel predictable, short-range routes with frequent stop-and-go driving in cities and have a central location for daily recharging. The electric vehicle will have a top speed of 75 mph and a targeted range of up to 80 miles on a full electric charge. At 240V, the 28kWh Johnson Controls-Saft (JCS) lithium-ion battery back can be recharged in 6 to 8 hours. The battery pack is liquid cooled. An onboard charger converts the AC power from the electric grid to DC power to charge the battery pack.
JCS has supplied Ford for many years. JCS will supply the 8 to 13 kWh lithium battery for the 2012 Ford Plug-in Hybrid which we forecast will be part of an all-new Ford Focus family.
A transportable cord that works with both types 120V and 240V outlets will be available for recharging at both kinds of locations. The onboard DC/DC converter allows the vehicle’s main battery pack to charge the onboard 12V battery, which powers the vehicle’s various accessories, such as headlights, power steering and coolant pumps.
Azure Dynamics’ proprietary Force Drive battery electric powertrain will be the driving force in the Transit Connect Electric. Force Drive components have previously been deployed in more than 40 vehicle integrations and have more than 25 million miles of on-the-road experience.
With rising gasoline prices, the Transit Connect Electric will be a money maker for local businesses with a delivery range of less than 80 miles daily such as drug stores, auto parts dealers, and florists. Tax incentives, local clean air funds, and added business from green conscious customers will all be part of the equation. Some government fleet applications will also be a good match. Ford identifies the following savings in vehicle maintenance:
•The number of components typical in an internal combustion engine and transmission are dramatically reduced in an electric vehicle to just a few moving parts in the electric motor and transaxle, which results in much fewer parts to wear out or maintain
•Electric powertrains operate with solid state electronics, which have demonstrated low or no maintenance over the life of the product
•Electric vehicles have completely sealed cooling systems that do not require refilling, replacement or flushing
•Electric vehicles require no oil changes or tune-ups
•There are no belts to wear out or break and no spark plugs or injectors to clean or adjust
•There is no exhaust system to replace and no liquid fuel system to freeze or clog
•The use of regenerative braking reduces wear and tear on brake pads
Transit Connect Electric is a strong addition to Ford’s successful Transit Connect. Both have the following specs:
•135 cubic feet of cargo volume with 59.1 inches of floor-to-ceiling load height and 47.8 inches of load width between the wheel arches
•Load length of just over six feet of cargo floor space
•Split rear cargo doors that open at a standard 180 degrees, or an optionally available 255 degrees
•Lift-over height less than two feet when the vehicle is unloaded
•Power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering allows a 39-foot curb-to-curb turning circle for maneuverability in tight urban spaces
•Bulkheads, racks, bins and other upfits can be mixed, matched and configured to suit many specific commercial applications and needs
Although the 135 cubic feet of cargo is no match for the cargo space in 16,000 pound vans widely used by UPS and FedEx, the vehicle size is perfect for many city delivery applications. As detailed in our FedEx Clean Fleet Report, the volume and weight of an average package is now less. People are shipping more iPods and less big stereos.