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The Hertz Corporation, the world's largest general-use vehicle rental firm, has announced the addition of five Ford Transit Connect Electric vans into its Hertz on Demand fleet, a first for the automotive rental industry.

With a unique combination of sedan-like driving dynamics, cargo capacity, accessibility and low operating costs, the Transit Connect is an ideal choice for electrification, says Azure Dynamics, manufacturer of record for the Transit Connect Electric.

The five electrified vans will be deployed at multiple Hertz rental locations in mid-November and will be available as part of Hertz Entertainment Services and its Zipcar-like Hertz on Demand car-sharing scheme. The Connects will join Hertz' electrified vehicle stable, which includes the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, Smart Fortwo Electric Drive, as well as other hybrid and electric rental rides.

That's quite a few plug-in vehicles, but Hertz wants more. Hertz' head of public affairs and communications, Rich Broome, recently told Green Car Reports:
We need more electric cars! We've got about 50 electric cars in our fleets now, and we could use another 2,000 to 3,000 if we could just get the vehicles.
Five electric Connects is a start.
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Hertz Adds Five Transit Connect Electric Vans to Its Fleet

OAK PARK, Mich., Oct. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Hertz Corporation (NYSE: HTZ), the world's largest general use airport car rental brand, and Azure Dynamics Corporation (TSX: AZD)(OTC: AZDDF) ("Azure"), a world leader in the development and production of hybrid electric and electric components and powertrain systems for light and medium commercial vehicles, today jointly announced the addition of the innovative Ford Transit Connect Electric van into Hertz's fleet, a first for the car rental industry. The five Hertz units will be deployed mid-November at multiple locations as part of Hertz Entertainment Services and Hertz on Demand car sharing.

"Hertz Entertainment Services and Hertz on Demand customers have unique vehicle needs and the Transit Connect Electric is a perfect fit for customers looking for the latest in mobility solutions while also achieving best in class sustainability practices," commented Mark P. Frissora, Hertz Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "We expect to deploy the Transit Connect Electric in our B to B programs for customers who need a light duty van with a high degree of cargo capacity as a part of their fleet solutions."

"Since launching last year, a broad cross-section of businesses including utilities, delivery companies and even law firms have used the Transit Connect Electric to green their fleets," said Nancy Gioia, director of global electrification, Ford Motor Company. "With its new Transit Connect Electric fleet, Hertz will allow even more businesses in a variety of new industries to experience 100 percent electric and zero-emissions driving."

"The value-add of working with a marquee rental company like Hertz is that multiple end-users will get behind the wheel and experience our Transit Connect Electric first hand," said Scott Harrison, Azure Dynamics CEO. "Although driving performance and cargo versatility will be familiar compared to the conventional product, our Force Drive(TM) powertrain runs entirely on electricity, producing zero tailpipe emissions, and will likely be the first electric drive experience for many of Hertz customers."

According to independent data, rental car companies collectively operate approximately 1.63 million vehicles in the United States. As the economy gains traction, it is expected that U.S. rental companies will add vehicles to their fleets including fuel efficient 'green' vehicles.

Hertz Entertainment Services rents vehicles to various studios and entertainment companies that often choose to rent vehicles during periods of increased activity. Hertz On Demand is a pay-on-demand car membership club based on hourly rental services. The Transit Connect Electric program is a chance for both divisions to explore opportunities for the van's inclusion in the fleet.

Hertz continues to improve the fuel economy of its vehicles through is Global EV eco-mobility program, which is championing an electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle mobility ecosystem that incorporates transportation options that minimize the impact of its operations on the environment and enables the company to continue consistent sound environmental behavior.

The Ford Transit Connect Electric utilizes Azure's proprietary electric powertrain system and Johnson Controls' advanced lithium-ion battery to achieve a range of 50 to 80 miles depending on auxiliary usage and drive cycle and is rechargeable using either a 240-volt or standard 120-volt outlet. Commercial vans generally return to a central location at the end of each driving cycle making for easy overnight recharging. Use of the Transit Connect Electric vehicles will also reduce fuel and maintenance costs, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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 light and medium 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 Hertz

The Hertz Corporation, a subsidiary of Hertz Global Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: HTZ), is the world's largest airport general use car rental brand, operating from approximately 8,500 locations in 146 countries worldwide. Hertz also operates one of the world's largest equipment rental businesses, Hertz Equipment Rental Corporation, through approximately 320 branches in the United States, Canada, France, Spain, China and Italy. For more information please visit www.hertz.com.


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  • 15 Comments
      Marco Polo
      • 6 Months Ago
      @DaveMart. "Ford remain, on this evidence at least, utterly committed to relying on an infinite supply of oil" I think that's a little unfair. Bill Ford Jr is one of the pioneers of EV development. Ford is in a very difficult position, it has significant debt problems, since unlike GM, Chrysler and in an earlier period, Renault, Ford didn't go bankrupt. Ford was rescued from the clutches of the corporate wreckers, by the high risk strategy of it's Chairman, William Clay Ford Jr, the Ford family, and a brilliant CEO. But Ford operates on very narrow profit margins, with no reserves. Ford is moving slowly and cautiously, not from any deep desire to remain committed to ICE technology, but a desire to remain in business! Daimler, VW, BMW, Fiat, Chrysler, Mazda and all the others are moving equally slowly, but with less excuse. It's all very well for critic's to pontificate about what Ford should be doing, but they haven't persuaded their entire family to put up a hundred years of accumulated wealth, on a gamble to save an American Icon.
      Marco Polo
      • 6 Months Ago
      @ I don't think you have any idea about overhead costings for a mass manufacturer. Do you really think that you just add up the cost of components and that becomes the selling price? The problem for Ford is that they don't produce the vehicle in-house. Renault's pricing is very low, and it yet to be seen if it can be sustained. Renault raises funds a lot cheaper than Ford, and has far less debt, as the French government (a shareholder) freed Renault from debt. Ford simply hasn't the capital required to risk on marginally profitable projects. It's been a huge effort by the Ford family to keep Ford afloat and bring the stock price back from $1 to $17. Gene, like some ABG readers, you think that ford will suffer if not first in EV's, actually I'm surprised they are even offering the Connect. Ford needs models that sell in the hundreds of thousands, world wide, with very good profitability. EV development is very expensive, low volume, and high risk. Best left to Toyota, GM, Renault/Nissan etc.
      DaveMart
      • 6 Months Ago
      Presumably this is 'unique' if only the US is considered. Nissan should rebadge some Renault Kangoo's, send them to the States, and then folk would notice that the only thing unique about the Connect is the high price.
        EVSUPERHERO
        • 6 Months Ago
        @DaveMart
        I am truly underwhelmed by Ford and this fifty seven thousand dollar vehicle. I don't care what anyone says they could do so much better. Instead they want to rape early adopters with this over priced under preforming EV. Why? Because they can. Truly disgusting, giving EV's a black eye and GM will be doing the same thing, count on it. Mitsubishi has been doing the same with the imieve, they are just now lowering the price to something semi palatable. Ford cannot be paying more than twenty thousand for the motor, motor controller and batteries. Their glider van no way in hell costs more than fifteen thousand it can't cost more than ten thousand to put together, so forty five thousand, tops, period. They are making more off this van than any other car they sell. The only way it is going to end is if Nissan beats the hell out of them in sales by mass production, only then will people not be forced into the atrocious prices of Ford and GM.
      paulwesterberg
      • 6 Months Ago
      As long as I don't have to return the vehicle charged up or pay $50 for them to "refill" it.
      mustang_sallad
      • 6 Months Ago
      This is not an example of price gouging, that's ridiculous. Have you ever heard of engineering? It costs money, lol! Development costs are very high for EVs. The difference in price between an EV like this and those that appear to be much more affordable are that the cheaper ones are being heavily subsidized by the manufacturer as a means of giving a kick start to the market, and more importantly, a kickstart to their reputation as leaders in the EV market. I asked Mark Perry from Nissan quite directly, and he pointed out that establishing Nissan as the #1 brand when it comes to EVs (which I'd say they've almost done, probably need another model to bring it home, clearly that's on the way with these Renault projects) is much more valuable to the company than making profit on each Leaf sold, and will pay off in the long run when it becomes feasible to sell EVs at a profit. The difference here is that Ford is not subsidizing this product, and instead relying on early adopters who are willing to share the burden of kick starting this market for whatever value they get out of it. I think Nissan's got a much better plan on this front, but there's a difference between a "cash grab" and not wanting to lose money on a project.
      DaveMart
      • 6 Months Ago
      It cost a lot for Mitsubishi to develop their electric car, and to produce it. Even if they could have priced it a little lower on the assumption that it would sell well, since they were leading the market they could have no idea that it would do so, Ford's pricing strategy arises rather differently, and the high price is because they project that volumes will remain low, right through 2020, so they are not pricing for high volume. The Nissan/Renault strategy is of course far more aggressive, and one likely to reap big dividends if oil prices march higher, but a high risk strategy which For have not chosen to go along with. Its really not correct to say that any of them are ripping the customer off, except perhaps insofar as Ford benefits from the patriotic card with its alleged status as an 'American' manufacturer winning Government orders when any rational person would not bother at that price. At this price it is obviously entirely unviable as a means of transport, and whilst it might not be profiteering it is tepid tokenism at its worse, and shows that Ford is not serious about the electrification of transport. The want the same for sticking a few batteries in a van as Tesla will for some of their Model S cars. Ford remain, on this evidence at least, utterly committed to relying on an infinite supply of oil.
      DaveMart
      • 6 Months Ago
      Its nice to see Ford have a sense of humour. For comparison, here is the Renault Kangoo Maxi in the UK, which has more load space: http://www.renault-ze.com/en-gb/gamme-voitures-electriques-renault-z.e./kangoo-van-maxi-z.e./presentation-60373.html That comes to around $28,300, plus battery lease for a decent mileage at around $115/mo For 5 years that would cost you another $7,200 Total $35,500, saving $22,000. If you want to argue that the battery in the Ford will last 10 years, and ignore the fact that you will probably be able to hang onto the batteries in the Renault for longer at a reduced rate. and/or lease cheaper future batteries instead, then the gap comes down to about $15,000. If the point of a mass car manufacturer is to produce cars at a competitive price, and the point of a maker of electric cars is to do the same for their electric vehicles., then what is the point of Ford?
      Ford Future
      • 6 Months Ago
      I worry about Ford too, not knowing how to price vehicles to MOVE. Early price gouging, almost seems to be the goal to Kill the market, intend of build a new one. They are the dumb-asses of new product introductions. Either you Compete with yourself or someone else will. Ford is leaving this market wide open to LOSE.
      Spec
      • 6 Months Ago
      I don't think this vehicle will be around for long. Someone will make a real mini-van EV and this thing will be dead. Hopefully soon. Not that I hate it but I want cheaper off-the-shelf EVs available instead of pricey glider conversions.
      Spec
      • 6 Months Ago
      I can't imagine there is a big rental market for these. I guess if you want to bring a bunch of stuff home from IKEA.
        Marco Polo
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Spec
        I always wanted to meet someone who would want to bring home a bunch of stuff from Ikea.....
      Andrew Richard Rose
      • 6 Months Ago
      The Glider without the dirty bits costs the company around $5000 , thats based on the pricing over here in europe .
      DaveMart
      • 6 Months Ago
      mustang: Your point is essentially correct, however the big difference in price is not the degree of subsidy, but the projected volumes of production. Clearly Ford are pricing to sell a few hundred, paid for by Government and quasi government organisations and so the cost essentially goes to the taxpayer. No-one else is going to bother at those prices. Nissan/Renault have priced for the hundreds of thousands a year, and so can force costs much more. At the risk of going too far in terminally boring accounting procedures, subsidies are also partly a product of how costs have been allocated, and Nissan/Renault have clearly subsumed billions in R & D for electrics into their general R & D overhead. You come out with very different costs for R & D if you allocate it directly to the electric vehicles you produce. All of this is really saying that Nissan/Renault believe in and have committed to mass production of electric vehicles, as have Mitsubishi, whilst Ford are putting in a place-holder and getting some expertise for when and if they need to greatly expand EV production, whilst essentially getting a far greater subsidy of around $20,000 or so on each of their vehicles as no one except a Government agency would buy them at this price. Apart from the playing the patriotic card I do not really object to Ford going this route, but don't see any reason at all to accept any gloss they choose to try about being leaders in electric mobility. They are not. They are laggards.
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