Azure Dynamics selects Lotus for Transit Connect Electric upfits in Europe

Ford Transit Connect Electric – Click above for high-res image gallery

On Tuesday, Ford announced that it had signed a deal to deliver 20 Transit Connect Electrics to the Norwegian Post. Two days after that, Azure Dynamics, the automotive firm that supplies the Connect's ForceDrive electric powertrain, revealed that Lotus Lightweight Structures, a division of Lotus Cars, will tackle the task of electrifying Transits for the European market.

Here's how it'll work: Lotus will receive empty Transit shells, called gliders, from Ford's manufacturing facility in Turkey. Lotus will take the empty gliders and marry them to the ForceDrive powertrains at its Worcester facility in the UK. From there, the electrified Transits will ship out to paying customers throughout Europe. The electrification of these Europe-bound Transit Connects will kick off this June.

[Source: Azure Dynamics]
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Azure Dynamics Selects Lotus Lightweight Structures for Transit Connect Electric Upfitting in Europe

* Lotus Lightweight Structures to provide expertise to upfit the base Ford Transit Connect with Azure's patented ForceDriveTM electric powertrain to create Transit Connect Electric
* Production is scheduled to begin in June, 2011 at the Lotus Lightweight Structures facility in Worcester, UK
* Lotus Lightweight Structures' high technology capabilities enables Azure to scale production to meet expected demand

OAK PARK, MI, March 23 /PRNewswire/ - Azure Dynamics Corporation (TSX: AZD)(OTC: AZDDF) ("Azure" or the "Company"), a world leader in the development and production of hybrid electric and electric components and powertrain systems for commercial vehicles, announced today that Lotus Lightweight Structures, a division of Group Lotus plc, will provide assembly support for the Transit Connect Electric for the European market. Lotus Lightweight Structures will be responsible for upfitting Azure's patented ForceDriveTM battery electric powertrain into Ford Transit Connect "gliders" (powerless vehicles without a conventional powertrain or exhaust) from its facility in Worcester, UK, beginning in June 2011.

"The European Union and individual governments and private businesses are all working to lead the adoption of electric transportation technology and have shown strong interest in the Transit Connect Electric van," said Scott Harrison, CEO of Azure Dynamics. "With Lotus Lightweight Structures, the project gets another globally renowned automotive company to ensure that final assembly is completed to the exacting standards of our customers."

Stephan Pathenschneider, Chief Operating Officer - Lotus Cars said, "As part of Group Lotus plc, Lotus Lightweight Structures, based in Worcester in England, has a well earned reputation as one of the finest high technology automotive organizations in the world. We have a client base that includes both premier sports car brands and large car companies and of course we manufacture and assemble the pioneering and award winning bonded and extruded aluminium chassis for the Tesla Roadster, the Lotus Evora, the Lotus Elise and Lotus Exige. We not only specialize in manufacturing vehicle structures from lightweight materials including aluminium, composites and lightweight steels, but we also have a high quality and efficient assembly process which will enable us to upfit the Azure Dynamics ForceDriveTM electric Powertrain to the Ford Transit Connect Electric."

Transit Connect Electric is the all-electric version of Ford Motor Company's award-winning Transit Connect, first introduced in Europe in 2002 when it was awarded the prestigious 'International Van of the Year Award'. Transit Connect has a successful history in Europe due to its combination of car-like driving dynamics, cargo capacity, accessibility and low operating costs. Transit Connect Electric is an ideal choice for light duty commercial customers who travel predictable, short-range routes with frequent stop-and-go conditions in urban and suburban environments. In addition to its favorable carbon footprint, the Transit Connect Electric is extremely quiet thus lessening noise pollution on crowded streets.

Many European fleet owners have participated in early Transit Connect Electric demonstration programs and expressed enthusiasm for the vehicle's performance and eco characteristics. On a full charge, Transit Connect Electric has a range between 80 KM/50 miles and 130 KM/80 miles depending on auxiliary power usage and drive cycle. It is rechargeable using standard European 220/240-volt outlets within 6 to 8 hours. Commercial fleet vehicles generally return to a central location at the end of a driving cycle making them perfect for recharging overnight.

The Lotus Lightweight Structures facility in Worcester, England will receive Transit Connect "gliders" shipped from the Ford manufacturing location in Turkey, and ForceDriveTM electric components from Azure and its supplier facilities. Lotus Lightweight Structures will provide all final assembly operations for vehicles bound to the European market.

Azure's ForceDriveTM powertrain has previously been deployed in more than 40 vehicle integrations and has more than 35 million miles of on-the-road experience. Energy stored in the lithium ion battery is utilized to drive the motor through the electric powertrain's motor controller. The accelerator input from the driver converts DC power supplied by the battery into three precisely timed signals used to drive the motor. The Transit Connect Electric van's appearance is identical to the standard Transit Connect other than the inclusion of the Azure ForceDriveTM badge on the rear of the vehicle and information provided on the instrument cluster. Of course, Transit Connect Electric will not have an exhaust pipe as the vehicle produces zero tailpipe emission.

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 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

About Lotus
Group Lotus plc, is based in Norfolk, UK, and has three operating divisions: Lotus Cars, Lotus Engineering and Lotus Motorsport.

Lotus Cars builds world class, high performance sports cars including the award-winning Evora, the iconic Elise and the stunning Exige and the road / track orientated 2-Eleven. Lotus New Era, the future product line-up, was unveiled in Paris on 30th September 2010 featuring the new Esprit, Elan, Elite, Elise and Eterne.

Lotus Cars also includes Lotus Lightweight Structures which is based in Worcester, England and manufactures the bonded and extruded Aluminium chassis structures for all Lotus cars and also manufactures components for other premier sports car brands and large car companies.

Lotus Engineering provides comprehensive and versatile consultancy services to many of the world's OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers and is an internationally recognised automotive engineering consultancy. Global facilities include those in the US, Malaysia, China and offices in Germany and Japan, with rapid expansion in new territories such as South East Asia. Lotus is a global high-tech company, expanding rapidly and committed to driving forward technology for both Lotus Cars and its Engineering clients, spearheading research into such areas as hybrids, electric vehicles and renewable fuels.

Lotus Motorsport operates the motorsports activities of Lotus and includes the strategy to return the Lotus name to a great number of series including endurance racing with GT2, GT4 and LMP2, single seater racing with GP2, GP3 and IndyCar. Lotus has also returned to F1 with Lotus Renault GP from the start of the 2011 F1 racing season onwards.

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