Ford Transit Connect BEV - click above for high-res image gallery

Ford announced a change in direction today for its Transit Connect BEV program. Azure Dynamics will be partnering with Ford on bringing its first new electric vehicle to market. Last February however, the automaker announced that it would be working with Smith Electric Vehicles to produce the plug-in cargo van starting in 2010. We checked with Ford spokeswoman Jennifer Moore who told us that Ford and Smith had mutually decided they had different goals and would go their separate ways.

Azure will take the lead on finishing the electric TC including integrating its "Force Drive" powertrain. The TC will be using lithium ion batteries supplied by Johnson Controls-Saft who will also be supplying the electric Focus in 2011 and the new plug-in hybrid coming in 2012. Ford and Azure already have a relationship thanks to the E450 chassis that Azure uses to build hybrid shuttle buses. Azure will be switching its hybrid shuttles over to the JCS batteries next year as well. The Transit Connect will have a range of approximately 80 miles per charge, and will be available to commercial fleets starting sometime in 2010.

[Source: Ford]

press release

  • Ford Motor Company, collaborating with Azure Dynamics, will introduce battery electric Transit Connect commercial van to market in 2010
  • The Transit Connect BEV is the first production vehicle from accelerated electric vehicle strategy, which includes Ford Focus BEV passenger car in 2011, and a next-generation hybrid and plug-in hybrid in 2012
  • Azure Dynamics will integrate its proprietary Force Drive™ battery electric drive train in the Transit Connect BEV
  • Johnson Controls-Saft selected as battery supplier for Transit Connect BEV

DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. 30 – Ford Motor Company announced today that Azure Dynamics Corporation (TSX: AZD) has joined in a collaborative effort to deliver a pure battery electric Ford Transit Connect van for the United States and Canadian markets in 2010. Azure will integrate its Force Drive ™ battery electric drive train in the Transit Connect van for commercial fleet and retail use.

The collaboration with Azure Dynamics for the Transit Connect BEV will build on the existing business relationship between Ford and Azure as well as their shared experience with battery supplier, Johnson Controls-Saft.

"We recognize an increasing interest in electrified vehicles and have an aggressive strategy to bring these vehicles to the marketplace," said Nancy Gioia, Ford director of Global Electrification. "Our work with Azure to create a pure electric battery Transit Connect vehicle will allow us to offer our commercial customers an additional option for environmentally friendly transportation."

The Transit Connect BEV will be built on Ford's global commercial vehicle platform as part of the company's One Ford global product vision. It is the first of four electrified vehicles from Ford that will become available over the next three years in the U.S. and Canada including:

  • Battery electric Transit Connect van in 2010
  • Battery electric Ford Focus passenger car in 2011
  • Plug-In hybrid vehicle in 2012

Collaboration builds on existing business relationship
Azure Dynamics develops hybrid electric and electric drive technology for shuttle buses and commercial trucks, such as the Balance™ Hybrid Electric, which is built on the Ford E-450 cutaway and strip chassis for the medium duty commercial vehicle segment.

"The opportunity to work with Ford on the Transit Connect BEV is a breakthrough advancement for us at Azure and for the light commercial vehicle market," said Scott Harrison, Azure Dynamics CEO. "For Azure, it's an important evolution of our existing relationship with Ford. From an industry standpoint, we are seeing delivery fleet and utility vehicle operators move to smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles. The Transit Connect BEV will come to market at an ideal time to meet this growing trend."

Oak Park, Mich.-based Azure Dynamics will integrate its proprietary Force Drive™ battery electric drive train into the Transit Connect BEV, which will have a targeted range of 80 miles minimum on a full charge and zero tailpipe emissions. Force Drive™ components have previously been deployed in more than 40 vehicle integrations and have more than 25 million miles of on-the-road experience. The Transit Connect BEV will offer fleet owners the opportunity to eliminate the use of gasoline and help to lower operating costs. The vehicle will be badged with both the Ford Blue Oval and Azure's Force Drive logo.

Azure Dynamics has selected Johnson Controls-Saft as the supplier for lithium-ion battery cells and battery packs for the Transit Connect BEV. Azure Dynamics and Ford both currently utilize Johnson Controls-Saft battery technology for other products. The Transit Connect BEV will use the same proven cell technology that is currently deployed in the Ford Escape plug-in hybrid fleet that is on the road today. In addition, Azure had previously announced it would use Johnson Controls-Saft lithium-ion batteries for its E- 450 Balance Hybrid Electric beginning in the second half of 2010. The shared supplier business relationship is expected to provide additional synergy between Ford and Azure in the Transit Connect BEV project.

Transit Connect commercial platform ideal choice for battery electric power
The Ford Transit Connect already is a proven global success. Ford introduced the gasoline-engine Transit Connect to North America this year. With a unique combination of car-like driving dynamics, cargo capacity, accessibility and low purchase and operation costs, it is an ideal choice for electrification. Commercial users often travel predictable, short-range routes with frequent stop and go driving in urban and suburban environments. For customers seeking sustainable mobility solutions, the Transit Connect Battery Electric Vehicle with Azure Force Drive™ will provide a zero emissions option.

The Transit Connect was designed, engineered and manufactured on a dedicated global commercial vehicle platform to beat tough commercial vehicle durability standards. The final manufacturing location for the Transit Connect BEV has not yet been determined.

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