Step aside, Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf. Or at least make way. The electrified Ford Transit Connect panel van is gaining momentum among EVs. According to The Detroit Bureau, demand for the electric version of the Transit Connect is poised to exceed the modest expectations of 700 units sold. The vehicle is a collab-creation from Ford and Azure Dynamics, a company headquartered in Detroit that develops and integrates hybrid electric drive technology into vehicles.

The Transit Connect EV nabs about an 80-mile range on its 28 KWh lithium-ion batteries. Not too shabby considering the substantially smaller Leaf has an EPA-assessed range of 73 miles and the Volt will get you some 35 miles on its electric power. Of course larger vehicles can fit more battery cells, naturally.

RøhneSelmer, a Norwegian Ford dealership, nearly doubled its inventory order after clients, including the postal service, expressed interest in the EV work van. And, for those plumbers and carpet installers stricken with range anxiety, take note: the vehicle can reportedly recharge to 80% capacity in as little as half an hour when connected to a high-speed Level III charger.

Healthier than expected Transit Connect EV sales may be an encouraging sign for last week's partnership between Ford and Toyota that seeks to develop hybrid-electric solutions for rear-drive light-duty trucks and SUVs. By focusing on fuel-saving systems for larger vehicles, Ford and Toyota are acknowledging the sort evolution that will be necessary for manufacturers to meet new CAFE standards that will require all U.S. fleets to average 54.5 mpg by 2025.

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