Ford and Azure Dynamics Collaborate on Transit Connect Electric for Europe

May 09, 2010 by Jeff Shepard

Ford Motor Company and Azure Dynamics Corp. announced that they have signed a collaborative agreement to begin delivering a pure battery electric version of the successful Ford Transit Connect van to customers in Europe beginning in late summer 2011. Azure will integrate its Force Drive™ battery electric drive train into Transit Connect vehicles in Europe to support the sale of the zero-emission battery-electric models in selected markets.

"We’re proud of Transit Connect as it has conclusively proved itself to be a versatile, adaptable and thoroughly dependable vehicle for real world commercial customers," said John Fleming, Ford of Europe’s Chairman and CEO. "Adding a practical, full battery-electric, zero-emission alternative to the range further demonstrates the enormous flexibility of this vehicle and gives customers the option of being among the first to adopt this environmentally friendly technology."

Ford’s relationship with Azure Dynamics is already well established in North America and is now extending to Europe. In North America, Azure develops hybrid electric and electric drive technology for shuttle buses and commercial trucks, such as the Balance™ Hybrid Electric, which is built on a Ford E-450 ’cutaway and strip’ chassis for the medium duty commercial vehicle segment.

Michigan-based Azure began work on its collaborative agreement to deliver the pure battery-electric powertrain for the Transit Connect in the U.S. and Canada in October 2009, and the extension of this collaboration into Europe is described as a logical next step and the first time Azure will operate in the region.

"We’re excited about the extension of the Transit Connect Electric program to Europe and understand that putting electric vehicles on the world’s roads in significant quantities will be a long term proposition," said Scott T. Harrison, Azure Dynamics CEO. "However, with the Transit Connect Electric, Ford and Azure are doing their part in helping to lead that transition. The European Union and individual governments are keen to encourage adoption of electric transportation technology because they understand the potential benefits to energy infrastructure and to society at large, We believe that European commercial vehicle customers will be eager to adopt the Transit Connect Electric into their fleets, to demonstrate their commitment to becoming part of the solution."

The Transit Connect Electric will have a targeted range of up to 130 km/80 miles on a full charge and zero exhaust emissions. It will be rechargeable using standard European 220/240V outlets within 6 to 8 hours.

’Glider’ units, vehicles built without the powertrain, will be shipped from the current Ford Otosan manufacturing facility in Kocaeli, Turkey, directly to an Azure-contracted manufacturing location in Europe for final assembly. The completed Transit Connect Electric will then be sold by Azure Dynamics, who will define a specially-created network of dealerships. Repair works under the Ford warranty will be provided by Ford dealers. They will be offered in both right- and left-hand drive configurations. Further details of market availability and pricing will be announced closer to launch.

Ford has confirmed that its global electric vehicles plan would be extending to Europe with five full electric or hybrid vehicles across its C, CD and light commercial vehicle ranges coming for European customers by 2013.

Specifically, Ford announced it would launch in Europe: two zero-emission full battery-electric vehicles: the light commercial Transit Connect Electric in 2011 followed by the Ford Focus Electric in 2012; two next-generation petrol hybrid-electric vehicles to be introduced in 2013; and a plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle also to be introduced in 2013.

Further details of Ford’s hybrid and plug-in hybrid models will be revealed closer to launch.