Ford has begun shipping the first Ford Transit Connect Electric Vans to early customers in North America and to the United Kingdom for a demonstration project.
The Transit Connect Electric Van is a product of Ford’s collaboration with Azure Dynamics and comes just 13 months after the two companies signed an initial technology partnership.
The Transit Connect Electric Vans are equipped with Azure Dynamics’ patented Force Drive battery electric powertrain and are assembled at AM General in Livonia in suburban Detroit.
Currently a single shift produces about seven or eight Transit Connect Electric vans per week, and more shifts will be added with rising demand.
To date, all initial units have designated customers. Azure Dynamics’ LEAD customer program includes seven companies that are taking delivery of their first units in 2010, with the remainder of their orders to be filled in 2011. Customers that have been previously announced include AT&T, Southern California Edison, Xcel Energy, Johnson Controls Inc., New York Power Authority, Canada Post and Toronto Atmospheric Fund EV300. Additional LEAD customers will be identified by the end of the year.
In addition to delivery of units to LEAD customers in North America, the Transit Connect Electric commercial van is headed to the United Kingdom, where 14 of the vehicles will take part in the government’s Ultra-Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator program. The program, supported by Scottish and Southern Energy, utilizes a fleet of zero-emissions vehicles for the energy company, with designated drivers to test vehicle and infrastructure technology.
The all-electric, zero-emissions Transit Connect Electric has a driving range of up to 80 miles per full charge and is ideal for fleet owners who have well-defined routes of predictable distances and a central location for daily recharging. Delivery fleet and utility vehicle operators have begun to show a preference for smaller, more efficient vehicles, which creates an ideal time for Transit Connect Electric to come to market.
Owners will have the option of recharging Transit Connect Electric with either a standard 120-volt outlet, or preferably a 240-volt charge station, typically installed at the user’s base of operations for optimal recharging in six to eight hours. A transportable cord that works with both types of outlets will be available for convenient recharging at either voltage.
The vehicle’s charge port is located above the passenger-side rear wheel well. The onboard liquid-cooled 28-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack is charged by connecting the charge port to a power outlet. Inside the vehicle, an onboard charger converts AC power from the electric grid to DC power to charge the battery pack.
Transit Connect Electric is expected to offer lower cost of operation, because charging with electricity is generally less expensive than fueling with gasoline.
When the vehicle is operating, battery power is provided to the drive motor through the electric powertrain’s motor controller. The motor controller uses throttle input from the driver to convert DC power supplied by the battery into three precisely timed signals used to drive the motor. The onboard DC/DC converter allows the vehicle’s main battery pack to charge the onboard 12-volt battery, which powers the vehicle’s various accessories, such as headlights, power steering and coolant pumps.
In Transit Connect Electric, the battery pack has been efficiently integrated without compromising interior passenger room and cargo space. The Johnson Controls-Saft battery pack is expected to last the life of the vehicle.