Ford Motor Company and Azure Dynamics are now shipping the Ford Transit Connect Electrics to large fleets. My test drive convinced me that this van will be a winner with U.S. fleet managers who control 4 million delivery vehicles. Shipments have also started to Europe, beginning with the U.K. 500 to 1,000 will be delivered in 2011.
The all-electric commercial vans are 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. The 28kWh lithium battery pack is supplied by the Johnson Controls SAFT JV.
Azure Dynamics’ LEAD customer program includes AT&T, Southern California Edison, Xcel Energy, Johnson Controls Inc., New York Power Authority, Canada Post and Toronto Atmospheric Fund EV300. Additional demonstration program – LEAD -customers will be identified by the end of the year.
Transit Connect Electric is the first product in Ford’s 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.
As the UK prepares for an electric 2012 Olympics, 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.
The consortium of Ford, Scottish and Southern Energy and the University of Strathclyde will provide Transit Connect Electric vehicles and a charging infrastructure in and around the London suburb of Hillingdon during 2010 and 2011.
Ford and Azure Dynamics already have announced they will collaborate to produce the Transit Connect Electric for the European market with first units to be delivered in 2011.
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.
The vehicle’s charge port is located above the passenger-side rear wheel well. The onboard liquid-cooled 28-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack is charged by connecting the charge port to a power outlet. Inside the vehicle, an onboard charger converts AC power from the electric grid to DC power to charge the battery pack.
When the vehicle is operating, battery power is provided to the drive motor through the electric powertrain’s motor controller. The motor controller uses throttle input from the driver to convert DC power supplied by the battery into three precisely timed signals used to drive the motor. The onboard DC/DC converter allows the vehicle’s main battery pack to charge the onboard 12-volt battery, which powers the vehicle’s various accessories, such as headlights, power steering and coolant pumps.
Clean Fleet Report forecasts that only Nissan and Chevrolet will sell more electric vehicles than Ford in 2011. Top 10 EV Report 2011