As anticipated, Ford Motor Company will kick off its electric vehicle program in America with a battery-powered version of its all-new light-duty Transit Connect commercial van. Set for a launch here in the last half of 2010, this zero-emissions variation will have the look and versatility of its conventional counterpart, but swap a 136-horsepower/2.0-liter gasoline-fired four-cylinder engine for an electric motor -- likely with some 50 kilowatts (67 horses) of power -- fed by a Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack that promises to deliver a range of up to 100 miles on a single charge.
Upfitting of this new Transit Connect EV will be done in conjunction with the British firm Smith Electric Vehicles. Smith is Europe's leading converter organization and has a long history with Ford that includes remaking the current generation of its medium-duty Transit Connect van to operate on battery power. However, Ford says final assembly of the 2010 Transit Connect EV will be done at a facility in the U.S. The conventional version of this new commercial hauler, which Ford claims drives more like a passenger car than a van, is due in showrooms here sometime this summer and will start at $21,475. No word yet as to how much more sticker shock buyers of the electric version will have to face.
In making the announcement, Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president of Global Product Development, noted that the new Transit Connect EV was the answer to a sustainability question that more and more commercial vehicle fleet customers had been asking. He sees it as a logical extension of where the automaker intends to go on an international basis; and one that supports Ford's previously stated strategy of bringing scalable, affordable and fuel-efficient solutions to market that can help reduce American commercial vehicle dependence on non-renewable petroleum-based fuels. Beyond that, Kuzak confirmed the remainder of the company's previously announced EV timetable remains unchanged. To that end, we can expect to see a small Focus-sized battery-electric car in 2011 and a new generation of hybrid vehicles as well as a dedicated plug-in hybrid in 2012.