• Mar 25th 2011 at 11:03AM
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Ford Transit Connect Electric – Click above for high-res image gallery

On Tuesday, Ford announced that it had signed a deal to deliver 20 Transit Connect Electrics to the Norwegian Post. Two days after that, Azure Dynamics, the automotive firm that supplies the Connect's ForceDrive electric powertrain, revealed that Lotus Lightweight Structures, a division of Lotus Cars, will tackle the task of electrifying Transits for the European market.

Here's how it'll work: Lotus will receive empty Transit shells, called gliders, from Ford's manufacturing facility in Turkey. Lotus will take the empty gliders and marry them to the ForceDrive powertrains at its Worcester facility in the UK. From there, the electrified Transits will ship out to paying customers throughout Europe. The electrification of these Europe-bound Transit Connects will kick off this June.

[Source: Azure Dynamics]
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Azure Dynamics Selects Lotus Lightweight Structures for Transit Connect Electric Upfitting in Europe

* Lotus Lightweight Structures to provide expertise to upfit the base Ford Transit Connect with Azure's patented ForceDriveTM electric powertrain to create Transit Connect Electric
* Production is scheduled to begin in June, 2011 at the Lotus Lightweight Structures facility in Worcester, UK
* Lotus Lightweight Structures' high technology capabilities enables Azure to scale production to meet expected demand

OAK PARK, MI, March 23 /PRNewswire/ - Azure Dynamics Corporation (TSX: AZD)(OTC: AZDDF) ("Azure" or the "Company"), a world leader in the development and production of hybrid electric and electric components and powertrain systems for commercial vehicles, announced today that Lotus Lightweight Structures, a division of Group Lotus plc, will provide assembly support for the Transit Connect Electric for the European market. Lotus Lightweight Structures will be responsible for upfitting Azure's patented ForceDriveTM battery electric powertrain into Ford Transit Connect "gliders" (powerless vehicles without a conventional powertrain or exhaust) from its facility in Worcester, UK, beginning in June 2011.

"The European Union and individual governments and private businesses are all working to lead the adoption of electric transportation technology and have shown strong interest in the Transit Connect Electric van," said Scott Harrison, CEO of Azure Dynamics. "With Lotus Lightweight Structures, the project gets another globally renowned automotive company to ensure that final assembly is completed to the exacting standards of our customers."

Stephan Pathenschneider, Chief Operating Officer - Lotus Cars said, "As part of Group Lotus plc, Lotus Lightweight Structures, based in Worcester in England, has a well earned reputation as one of the finest high technology automotive organizations in the world. We have a client base that includes both premier sports car brands and large car companies and of course we manufacture and assemble the pioneering and award winning bonded and extruded aluminium chassis for the Tesla Roadster, the Lotus Evora, the Lotus Elise and Lotus Exige. We not only specialize in manufacturing vehicle structures from lightweight materials including aluminium, composites and lightweight steels, but we also have a high quality and efficient assembly process which will enable us to upfit the Azure Dynamics ForceDriveTM electric Powertrain to the Ford Transit Connect Electric."

Transit Connect Electric is the all-electric version of Ford Motor Company's award-winning Transit Connect, first introduced in Europe in 2002 when it was awarded the prestigious 'International Van of the Year Award'. Transit Connect has a successful history in Europe due to its combination of car-like driving dynamics, cargo capacity, accessibility and low operating costs. Transit Connect Electric is an ideal choice for light duty commercial customers who travel predictable, short-range routes with frequent stop-and-go conditions in urban and suburban environments. In addition to its favorable carbon footprint, the Transit Connect Electric is extremely quiet thus lessening noise pollution on crowded streets.

Many European fleet owners have participated in early Transit Connect Electric demonstration programs and expressed enthusiasm for the vehicle's performance and eco characteristics. On a full charge, Transit Connect Electric has a range between 80 KM/50 miles and 130 KM/80 miles depending on auxiliary power usage and drive cycle. It is rechargeable using standard European 220/240-volt outlets within 6 to 8 hours. Commercial fleet vehicles generally return to a central location at the end of a driving cycle making them perfect for recharging overnight.

The Lotus Lightweight Structures facility in Worcester, England will receive Transit Connect "gliders" shipped from the Ford manufacturing location in Turkey, and ForceDriveTM electric components from Azure and its supplier facilities. Lotus Lightweight Structures will provide all final assembly operations for vehicles bound to the European market.

Azure's ForceDriveTM powertrain has previously been deployed in more than 40 vehicle integrations and has more than 35 million miles of on-the-road experience. Energy stored in the lithium ion battery is utilized to drive the motor through the electric powertrain's motor controller. The accelerator input from the driver converts DC power supplied by the battery into three precisely timed signals used to drive the motor. The Transit Connect Electric van's appearance is identical to the standard Transit Connect other than the inclusion of the Azure ForceDriveTM badge on the rear of the vehicle and information provided on the instrument cluster. Of course, Transit Connect Electric will not have an exhaust pipe as the vehicle produces zero tailpipe emission.

About Azure Dynamics
Azure Dynamics Corporation (TSX: AZD)(OTC: AZDDF) is a world leader in the development and production of hybrid electric and electric components and powertrain systems for commercial vehicles. Azure is strategically targeting the commercial delivery vehicle and shuttle bus markets and is currently working internationally with a variety of partners and customers. The Company is committed to providing customers and partners with innovative, cost-efficient, and environmentally-friendly energy management solutions. For more information please visit www.azuredynamics.com.

About Lotus
Group Lotus plc, is based in Norfolk, UK, and has three operating divisions: Lotus Cars, Lotus Engineering and Lotus Motorsport.

Lotus Cars builds world class, high performance sports cars including the award-winning Evora, the iconic Elise and the stunning Exige and the road / track orientated 2-Eleven. Lotus New Era, the future product line-up, was unveiled in Paris on 30th September 2010 featuring the new Esprit, Elan, Elite, Elise and Eterne.

Lotus Cars also includes Lotus Lightweight Structures which is based in Worcester, England and manufactures the bonded and extruded Aluminium chassis structures for all Lotus cars and also manufactures components for other premier sports car brands and large car companies.

Lotus Engineering provides comprehensive and versatile consultancy services to many of the world's OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers and is an internationally recognised automotive engineering consultancy. Global facilities include those in the US, Malaysia, China and offices in Germany and Japan, with rapid expansion in new territories such as South East Asia. Lotus is a global high-tech company, expanding rapidly and committed to driving forward technology for both Lotus Cars and its Engineering clients, spearheading research into such areas as hybrids, electric vehicles and renewable fuels.

Lotus Motorsport operates the motorsports activities of Lotus and includes the strategy to return the Lotus name to a great number of series including endurance racing with GT2, GT4 and LMP2, single seater racing with GP2, GP3 and IndyCar. Lotus has also returned to F1 with Lotus Renault GP from the start of the 2011 F1 racing season onwards.

The TSX Exchange does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Forward-Looking Statements Advisory

Certain information included in this press release constitutes forward-looking statements and information and future-oriented financial information under applicable securities legislation and is provided for the purpose of expressing management's current expectations and plans for the future. Readers are cautioned that reliance on such information may not be appropriate for other purposes, such as making investment decisions.

More particularly, this press release contains statements concerning Azure's anticipated: business development strategy, customer orders, product deliveries, sales, revenue and revenue growth. The forward-looking statements are based on a number of key expectations and assumptions made by Azure, including expectations and assumptions concerning achievement of current timetables for development programs and sales, target market acceptance of Azure's products, current and new product performance, availability and cost of labor and expertise, and evolving markets for power for transportation vehicles. Although Azure believes that the expectations and assumptions used to develop the forward-looking statements are reasonable, undue reliance should not be placed on the forward-looking statements because Azure can give no assurance that they will prove to be correct.

Since forward-looking statements address future events and conditions, by their very nature they involve numerous risks and uncertainties that contribute to the possibility that the projections and forecasts in the forward-looking statements will not occur and that actual performance or results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the risks associated with Azure's stage of development, history of losses and lack of historical product revenues, uncertainty as to product development and sales milestones being met, product defect and performance risks, competition for capital and market share, uncertainty as to target markets, dependence upon third parties, changes in environmental laws or policies, uncertainty as to patent and proprietary rights, availability and retention of management and key personnel, exchange rate and currency fluctuations, uncertainties relating to potential delays or changes in plans with respect to product development or capital expenditures, the ability of Azure to access sufficient capital on acceptable terms, and environmental and safety risks. This is not an exhaustive list and additional information on these risks and other factors that could affect Azure's operations and financial results are included in reports on file with the Canadian securities regulatory authorities and can be accessed through the SEDAR website at www.sedar.com.

The forward-looking statements contained in this press release are made as of the date hereof and Azure undertakes no obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statements or information, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, unless so required by applicable securities laws. Additionally, Azure undertakes no obligation to comment on the expectations of, or statements made by, third parties about Azure.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      51k dollars is what they get for these. I can't help but think they do it for the subsidies and the carbon credits.
      How can I build a drag racer for 35k that will do 0-60 in 4 seconds and have the range of the Transit and they can't even mass produce these cheaper. Ok my glider costs 3k instead of what theirs costs but my parts are produced in very small quantities. Oh but so are theirs because they won't commit to any large numbers.
      They just want the green creds and the subsidies. I expect they really just care about the subsidies and when they are gone so to will go the e transit connect, then they can forget about the green creds and just start advertising horse power again. They don't want to build these, when you don't want to build a particular car you ask a exorbitant amount of money for it and pretend you tried. This way Ford can tell the public later that they tried but it did not work out. Meanwhile if they massed produced the EV cars on the scale of ICE they would cost one quarter of a ICE car. They are fallowing the EV1 scenario to a tee. Soon you will be able to pull a e motor out of a garbage can like John Wayland pulled a scrap EV 1 motor out of a garbage can, now it will be powering his Insight to Seattle and back to Portland on one charge. The OEMS are whores when it comes to EV's and they waste much money but since it is the governments money they really don't care, if it means getting rid of EV's they will be happy to waste their money as well because they will by far make it up and much more by selling parts and maintenace for the ICE.

      Oh yes and of course they will not sell their e motor to a man working in his garage but they sure as hell will sell a ICE to a man in his garage, why the double standard? Something smells and it's not just coming from the exhaust. I know, I know, as a EV advocate I should be glad they are selling over priced EV's. What whores.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Does your dragster have a range of 80 miles? Does your dragster meet any safety standards? Does your dragster come with a warranty? How many discharge cycles do you expect to get on your batteries?

        I've made electric racecars myself, I know I wouldn't trust any single one of them to go more than 100 miles without having some issues.

        Your claiming this is overpriced shows you don't have a clue about the actual costs of this technology. The difference between this and the Leaf is that Nissan is happily taking a huge hit on each car, banking on the idea that if they're first to the EV market, the reputation will pay off in the long run.
        • 8 Months Ago
        @ EVsuperhero

        You've been getting too close to the cracker barrel again, haven't you? Stop sampling DF's medication!

        But, just for the helluva it, and because it's you, and you do post some sensible stuff sometimes, let's analysise what it is among all the invective you're trying to say......

        Lets see,... You've built a drag racer (presume EV) Well done! No I mean it, I applaud the hard work and enterprise.

        However, how much did you actually manufacture yourself? My bet is zero.

        Also, you are not producing a vehicle to meet very strict consumer standards, capital costs, tax, labour cost, pension plans, insurance, share dividends, R&D, losses on failed models, marketing, litigation, customs, admistration, currency fluctuations, laws, regulations, sales, dealers, spare parts, royalties, interest, investment in future models, bonded guarantee, warranty costs, corporate complience, recalls, industrial distrubance, plant depreciation, EPA requirements, Increases in overheads, interet payments on increases, penalties, etc etc..

        Mass producing a product is a really lot more difficult than it looks from the outside!

        No manufacturer is under any obligation to follow ideological doctrines or any ethical obligations, except to make money for the shareholders. In truth a multinational like Ford (despite it's environmentalist Chairman) shouldn't care what it produces, as long as it's profitable and sells.

        The fact that all the major companies are now turning to EV's, is because fossil fuels are comming to an end, and there is a growing demand for EV's. But like all new technology, the first are expensive. Want to buy one? Be prepared to pay!

        Or do what most people have always done, wait until its second hand! (better still, be like you, and build your own)

        I endorse and admire your passion for EV's, but sometimes passionate idealists can be very unrealistic when it comes to understanding the complexities of the problems facing mainstream business, and start ranting simplistic,conspiracy theories.

      • 8 Months Ago
      sounds expensive. I have a feeling this particular product carries a nasty price tag.
      • 8 Months Ago
      When the Grampus knows nothing it grumbles a negative comment! What do you care how expensive it is, or isn't? You'll never buy one!

      I would have thought you would have praised it's lightweight chassis, but no, the negative, envious instinct is just too strong !
      • 8 Months Ago
      Doesn't increasingly outsourcing have a negative effect on sustainability (cradle to cradle)? More attention should be brought to total life cycle sustainability.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Truly multinational construction! So how much of the Transit is Ford, Lotus, Auzure, Proton, and other makers along the way.

      Still bands are named after their leaders, so I suppose since Ford are paying the bill, It's a Ford.

      Ford are also clever in that although this vehicle involves relatively little capital investment, the Transit may achieve an outstanding result from the combination of a Lotus engineered lightweight chassis married to instantly recognised, but economically built body, with Azure Dynamics doing the hard bits.

      Fords stranglehold on the European light commercial market looks set to be further entrenched by this newest EV member of the transit marque.

      (Curiously the lawyers disclaimer in the press release seemed longer than the actual article!)
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