Ford has now confirmed that the new Transit Connect small van will form the basis for its first new battery electric vehicle that will launch in the second half of 2010. Ford is very excited about electric vehicles and we first learned that Ford planned to introduce a Transit Connect EV when the company's viability plan was submitted to Congress in December. Since then, speculation has been rife about which vehicle would form the basis for the new EV, with most indicators pointing at either the Transit or Transit Connect. Part of the reason for that is that Smith Electric Vehicles of the UK has already developed battery-powered versions of both of those models.
At a background briefing prior to the Chicago Auto Show, Ford's VP of product development, Derrick Kuzak, revealed that Ford was working with Smith to bring the Transit Connect EV to market next year. While Kuzak declined to provide much detail on the vehicle specs, volumes or pricing, some hints can be gleaned from the Smith EV website. The model sold by Smith as the Ampere adds a 24 kWh lithiun ion-iron phosphate battery pack to the Transit Connect.
The standard 2.0L four cylinder gas engine is replaced by a 50 kW electric motor. Together, these systems yield an expected range of about 100 miles on a charge and a top speed of 70 mph. The Ampere also has a payload capacity of 1,764 lbs. With that kind of payload, even a likely real world range that is considerably less than 100 miles shouldn't do much to dampen the utility of such a vehicle for a lot of customers. At least at first the Transit Connect EV will only be offered to commercial operators. The rest of us will have to wait another year for the Focus-based EV.