First Look: 2011 Ford Transit Connect EV

Ford has already pledged a Focus EV for our market in 2013, but the first step on the Blue Oval's road to electrification is this: the 2011 Ford Transit Connect Electric

Ford originally contracted with Smith Electric Vehicles to develop an electric version of its compact van (one prototype was shown at the 2009 Geneva motor show), but the pair split amicably late last year. Since then, electrification of the Transit Connect has been engineered and overseen by Azure Dynamics, a firm based out of Oak Park, Michigan.

For motive power, Azure turned to Siemens, who provided a 300-volt, three-phase AC induction motor. Output figures haven't been released, but Ford says the motor is capable of producing as much as 235 Nm of torque (a continuous rating, however, is a more modest 158 Nm). Azure bolts this motor to a Borg Warner single-speed gearbox, which then drives the front wheels. Ford says the combination allows a top speed of 75 mph, and a 0-60 mph time of 12 seconds (15 when fully laden).

Electricity is provided by a 28-kWh lithium ion battery pack, supplied by Johnson Controls-Saft. The liquid-cooled pack is installed in a manner so as not to intrude into the cargo area, and are said to last the "lifetime" of the vehicle (i.e. 10 years or so).

On a full charge, that battery pack provides roughly 80 miles of range. Recharging is done via an on-board charger, which can be powered by either 120- or 240-volt sources. Ford says a full, complete charge will likely take 6-8 hours, depending on the voltage supply.

Will this become the darling of commercial fleets? Perhaps. Ford acknowledges early adoption will be somewhat slow, but small businesses -- especially those located in bustling metropolises -- may be keen to adopt the vehicle. The range is perfect for making short runs, maintenance costs may drop (think of the money you'll save on oil and filters alone), and fueling could become a thing of the past.

Electric Transit Connects will still be manufactured in Turkey alongside their gasoline-powered siblings, but the EV conversion will be performed in Michigan under Azure's watch. Expect production to start in late 2010.

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