Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford will soon offer versions of its Ford Transit Connect, its small delivery van, in all-electric and compressed natural gas-powered versions. An all-electric model will go into production later this year.
The new editions are aimed at, including government fleets, where Ford already owns a 44 percent market share, said Anne Marie Gattari, who is Ford's truck communications manager.
"Government fleets can find uses for the Transit Connect in any number of applications, including, grounds and building maintenance, , construction," Gattari told Govpro.com. "In construction projects, the van is often used as a support vehicle, [such as when] the driver may need to carry light loads, but sometimes also needs to carry big loads, because it does have quite a large capacity."
Large capacity indeed. Both the Transit Connect electric and its gas-powered twin offer 135 cubic feet of cargo volume with 59.1 inches of floor-to-ceiling load height and 47.8 inches of load width between the wheel arches.
The Transit Connect electric is aimed at fleets that travel predictable, short-range routes with frequent stop-and-go driving, and that have a central location for daily recharging. The vehicle, which will accelerate at a similar rate as the gas-powered Transit Connect, will have a top speed of 75 mph, and has a targeted range of up to 80 miles on a full charge. The zero-emission all-electric vehicle will be rechargeable using either 240-volt or standard 120-volt outlets.
Ford is collaborating with Oak Park, Mich.-based Azure Dynamics Corp. to upfit the Transit Connect electric with Azure's Force Drive battery electric powertrain and Johnson Controls-Saft's lithium-ion battery technology. Force Drive components have been deployed in more than 40 vehicle integrations and have more than 25 million miles of on-the-road experience.
The Transit Connect electric is expected to lower the cost of operation because recharging with electricity is generally less expensive than refueling with gasoline, according to Ford estimates. Fleet owners also may benefit from lower maintenance costs over the life of the vehicle. In the electric model:
- There are no belts to wear out or break and no spark plugs or injectors to clean or adjust,
- There is no exhaust system to replace and no liquid fuel system to freeze or clog, and
- The use of regenerative braking reduces wear and tear on brake pads.