Azure, Ford collaborate to introduce Transit Connect Electric

Azure Dynamics has collaborated with Ford Motor to introduce the Transit Connect Electric, a pure el

The company said that Transit Connect Electric will make its debut at the Chicago Auto Show on February 10, 2010.

Azure is providing its patented Force Drive battery electric powertrain to replace the gasoline engine in the Transit Connect. Force Drive components have previously been deployed in more than 40 vehicle integrations and have more than 25 million miles of on-the-road experience.

Scott Harrison, CEO of Azure Dynamics, said: "The Transit Connect Electric is an ideal vehicle for our Force Drive technology. Force Drive is especially effective for fleets with predictable short range routes and frequent stop-and-go urban driving conditions that Transit Connect Electric vehicles are likely to encounter. We'll be able to offer owners lower operating and maintenance costs and zero emissions in a vehicle that can go up to 80 miles on a charge."

Gerry Koss, fleet marketing manager of Ford, said: "Fleet owners are demanding greater operating efficiency in cleaner vehicles. The Transit Connect Electric delivers on both fronts. As the first product in our aggressive electrified vehicle plan, we expect the Transit Connect Electric to be an immediate hit and keep Ford squarely on track to leadership in the electric vehicle market."

Force Drive's lithium-ion battery, provided by Johnson Controls-Saft, is expected to last the life of the Transit Connect Electric and replaces all the energy provided by gasoline in the standard Transit Connect. When the vehicle is operating, battery power is provided to the drive motor through the electric powertrain's motor controller, which uses throttle input from the driver to convert DC power supplied by the battery into three precisely timed signals used to drive the motor.

Azure's Balance Hybrid Electric medium-duty commercial vehicle, a delivery vehicle for a number of national fleets including FedEx Express, AT&T and Purolator Courier, is built on the Ford E-450 cutaway and strip chassis as is the Balance Hybrid Electric shuttle bus.