DEARBORN, MI - Ford Motor Company announced that Azure Dynamics Corporation 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
- Next generation hybrid vehicle in 2012
- Plug-In hybrid vehicle in 2012
Azure Dynamics develops hybrid electric and electric drive technology for shuttle buses and commercial trucks, such as the BalanceTM 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 DriveTM 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 DriveTM 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.
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.