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.
FORD TO OFFER FIRST BATTERY ELECTRIC COMMERCIAL VEHICLE ON GLOBAL TRANSIT CONNECT PLATFORM
The first product in Ford's aggressive new electric vehicle plan, a battery electric-powered version of Ford's global Transit Connect commercial vehicle, will be offered in 2010
Ford is collaborating with Europe's leading battery electric commercial vehicle upfitter – Smith Electric Vehicles, a unit of the Tanfield Group ─ to quickly bring this vehicle to market in North America
The initiative leverages the "One Ford" global strategy, delivering pure battery electric power for commercial applications on a global platform. It also supports Ford's strategy of bringing scalable, affordable and fuel-efficient solutions for millions while helping reduce American commercial vehicle dependence on oil
DEARBORN, Mich., Feb. 9, 2009 – Ford Motor Company today announced plans to market a pure battery electric-powered light commercial vehicle in North America, based on the all-new Transit Connect global commercial vehicle platform.
"The new Transit Connect light commercial vehicle with battery electric power represents the next logical step in our pursuit of even greater fuel economy and sustainability," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president of Global Product Development. "A growing number of our commercial vehicle fleet clients have expressed interest in electrification as a sustainable mobility solution. By leveraging our global team and asset portfolio, we're able to quickly bring this environmentally friendly, strong 'silent type' to market."
The use of a global commercial vehicle platform showcases Ford's ability to deliver products with worldwide marketing opportunities. Powering this electrification drive is the company's "One Ford" global product vision.
Transit Connect with battery electric power is the initial offering in Ford's aggressive new electric vehicle plan to bring pure battery-powered vehicles, hybrids and plug-in hybrids to market. To start, during the next four years,
Ford will introduce in North America:
The Transit Connect battery electric commercial vehicle in 2010
A new battery electric small car in 2011
Next-generation hybrid vehicles in 2012
Plug-in hybrid versions in 2012
Collaboration with experienced global partner enables speed to market
Ford is working with Smith Electric Vehicles, the European market's leading battery electric upfitter of commercial vehicles, which is part of the U.K.-based Tanfield Group of companies.
Since 1920, Smith has converted tens of thousands of vehicles to battery electric power. In the U.K. and select European markets, Smith already offers battery electric versions of the Ford Transit Connect and also the Ford Transit Connect medium commercial vehicle to fleet customers.
Transit Connect commercial platform ideally suited to battery electric power
Ford Transit Connect has been a global success. Its unique combination of car-like driving dynamics, cargo capacity, accessibility and low costs of entry and operation make it a logical platform for battery electric power. Transit Connect has been designed, engineered and manufactured by Ford of Europe on a dedicated global commercial vehicle platform to beat tough, light commercial vehicle durability standards.
Many commercial users travel predictable, short-range routes, with lots of stop and go in urban and suburban environments. For companies aiming for sustainable mobility solutions, Transit Connect with battery electric power can help them deliver in an environmentally friendly way.
A range of up to 100 miles makes Transit Connect a useful hauler, with significantly reduced operation and maintenance costs over the long haul. Numerous federal and regional programs offer incentives for companies to electrify their fleets. Ford Transit Connect with battery electric power will be available in select U.S. Ford dealerships in 2010.