Following yesterday's announcement that Canada Post would acquire 1,175 Ford Transit Connects for its fleet, DTE Energy has acquired 19 of the vans as part of its sustainability efforts. DTE Energy is one of two utilities that dominate the Michigan market for electricity and natural gas. DTE Energy is currently using the first batch of vehicles to deliver inter-office mail as well as deliver equipment and materials from warehouses.
The Transit Connect is rated at 22 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway by the EPA which is the primary reason for DTE to choose it. The Transit Connect is replacing full-size vans and pickups in these initial applications and is achieving double the real world mileage. Some of the service personnel that use the Transit Connect are on call so they take the vehicles home. Having an enclosed vehicle like the TC provides extra security for parts and tools as well as extra convenience for reaching everything.
If the initial pilot phase works out, DTE will likely add more Transit Connects to its fleet. With the recent announcement of the compressed natural gas Transit Connect taxi, it wouldn't be surprising to see DTE use the same fuel in many of its own vehicles in addition to using the Transit Connect Electric when it goes on sale later this year.
FORD TRANSIT CONNECT BUILDS ON ENERGY COMPANY'S SUSTAINABILITY EFFORTS
DTE Energy recently purchased 19 Ford Transit Connects and is exploring additional ways to integrate the new compact van into its vehicle fleet
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* DTE Energy, a company that provides natural gas and electric utility services to 3.4 million Michigan homes and businesses, recently purchased 19 Ford Transit Connects and is exploring additional ways to integrate the new compact van into its vehicle fleet
* The Ford Transit Connect is a greener vehicle choice than many of the vehicles currently in use by DTE Energy and it supports the company's sustainability efforts
* The Ford Transit Connect – 2010 North American Truck of the Year – offers fleet customers a fresh choice with improved fuel economy and maneuverability to operate in crowded urban areas
DEARBORN, Mich., March 19, 2010 – DTE Energy, a company that provides natural gas and electric utility services to 3.4 million Michigan homes and businesses, recently purchased 19 Ford Transit Connects and is exploring ways to integrate the new compact van into its vehicle fleet.
"What interested our team in the Ford Transit Connect was the fuel economy," said Gerard Huvaere, DTE Energy Fleet Operations. "It provides better fuel economy than many of the full-size pickup trucks and vans we have in our fleet."
According to Huvaere, the initial 19 Transit Connects are being used internally to transport materials from warehouses to various locations, to deliver interoffice mail and to move electric meters throughout the system. Some also are being used by the company's facilities maintenance personnel.
In addition to supporting the company's sustainability efforts, the Transit Connects help reduce operating costs, says Huvaere.
"The Transit Connect allows us to save upfront capital costs, and the fuel savings is tremendous," he said. "The trucks we replaced were older, and they were only getting 9 to 10 miles per gallon. We are achieving double that gas mileage with the Transit Connect."
Powered by a 2.0-liter I-4 engine with a four-speed automatic overdrive transmission, the Transit Connect delivers an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.
But fuel economy is not the only added benefit, says Huvaere.
"Many of the people who do our internal repairs take the vehicles home, so it's actually safer to keep all of their tools and equipment locked up in the Transit Connect instead of exposed in the bed of a pickup truck," he said.
According to Huvaere, DTE Energy personnel who have had an opportunity to drive the Transit Connect also like the extra headroom, the ability to access the vehicle from both the driver's and passenger's side, and the extra height in the cargo area. The front-wheel-drive Transit Connect also performs better in the Michigan snow, compared to the rear-wheel-drive pickup trucks.
Huvaere says DTE Energy is considering replacing some of the minivans currently being used by repair technicians who service homes and businesses with Transit Connects.
"The Transit Connect has more room, the same cargo capacity and costs less money to operate," he said. "And our employees really like the way it drives and handles."
Awards and accolades for the 2010 Ford Transit Connect:
* 2010 North American Truck of the Year
* 2010 Editors Choice for Vans by CAR and DRIVER magazine
* Detroit Free Press 2010 Truck of the Year
* The Detroit News 2010 Truck of the Year
* 2010 Popular Mechanics Automotive Excellence Award for Best Workhorse Vehicle
* A Great Car for the Small Business Delivery/Utility Worker by Kelley Blue Book kbb.com.
* Heavy Duty Trucking's Top 20 Product