2010 Chicago Auto Show: Electric 2011 Ford Transit Connect, Alt-Fuel Taxi

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2011 Ford Transit Connect Electric, introduced at 2010 Chicago Auto Show

2011 Ford Transit Connect Electric, introduced at 2010 Chicago Auto Show

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It's long been known that Ford's first electric car would actually be a truck. Now, we have all the details of the 2011 Ford Transit Connect Electric, an all-electric conversion of the Transit Connect commercial van that offers a range of up to 80 miles on a full charge.

The 2011 Transit Connect Electric is aimed predominantly at urban fleets that would use a small van on predictable routes with lots of stop-and-go traffic, with the truck returning to a set location each night where it could be recharged.

First deliveries of the 2011 Ford Transit Connect Electric to fleet customers will begin before the end of this year.

2011 Ford Transit Connect Electric, introduced at 2010 Chicago Auto Show

2011 Ford Transit Connect Electric, introduced at 2010 Chicago Auto Show

Enlarge Photo

Built in Turkey, electrified in the U.S.

Ford imports the Transit Connect from its sole global plant for the vehicle in Turkey, but the conversion work is done by Ford's partner Azure Dynamics at Ford's assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan.

Once the engine, transmission, gas tank, and other components are removed, Azure installs a liquid-cooled 28-kilowatt lithium-ion battery pack and a 135-kilowatt electric motor driving the front wheels through a single-speed Borg-Warner transmission.

The charging port is located above the right rear wheel well, and the Transit Connect Electric comes with a cord that handles either 110-Volt or 220-Volt sockets.

The Transit Connect Electric can be recharged in 6 to 8 hours using 220-Volt current, of the type used for clothes dryers and electric stoves, or "longer" on standard 110-Volt wall current.

Vehicle accessories, including headlights, power steering, cooling pumps, and the heater, are powered by a standard 12-Volt battery that, in turn, is charged by the vehicle's main battery pack.

Payload: 1,000 pounds

Curb weight is roughly 3,950 pounds, about 500 pounds heavier than the gasoline version. The conversion cuts payload from 1,600 to 1,000 pounds, meaning the electric van may be more suited for deliveries of flowers and light packages than heavy plumbing supplies.

Other specifications--including the tight 39-foot turning circle and 135-square-foot cargo bay--remain the same, as does room for passengers.

0-to-60 in 15 seconds

Acceleration isn't exactly sprightly, with 0 to 60 mph reached in 12 seconds unloaded, or a full 15 seconds when laden at the rated gross vehicle weight. Top speed is quoted at 75 miles per hour, though a note specifies that's on a road with zero-percent grade.

Lifetime is specified as 10 years or 120,000 miles, though the electric powertrain and associated modifications are warranted for 5 years or 60,000 miles.

2011 Ford Transit Connect Taxi, introduced at 2010 Chicago Auto Show

2011 Ford Transit Connect Taxi, introduced at 2010 Chicago Auto Show

Enlarge Photo

2011 Ford Transit Connect Taxi, introduced at 2010 Chicago Auto Show

2011 Ford Transit Connect Taxi, introduced at 2010 Chicago Auto Show

Enlarge Photo

Cheaper to run

Ford says lifetime operating costs for the Transit Connect Electric are expected to be lower over its lifetime. For one thing, recharging (or "fueling") on electricity is far cheaper per mile than is gasoline.

More than that, without an engine, transmission, and other components, maintenance is largely limited to wiper blades, brake pads, and an occasional light bulb.  There are no oil changes, belts, spark plugs, or exhaust systems to replace, and tuneups are never needed.

More plug-ins on the way

"People were a little hesitant about hybrids at first, but now they accept ... and embrace" them, said Praveen Cherian, program manager for the 2010 Transit Connect Electric. "We expect the same will be true of electric vehicles."

The electric Transit Connect is just the first of several plug-in Fords. The compact 2012 Ford Focus Electric will launch next year, followed by a plug-in hybrid in 2012, along with a new generation of the company's popular Escape Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid vehicles.

A greener yellow cab

Ford also announced a taxi conversion for the Transit Connect, which it hopes will let the company retain a majority of taxi purchases after the now-ancient Ford Crown Victoria sedan goes out of production, probably within a year or two.

As part of the taxi offering, Ford will also make alternate-fuel systems optional on the base and taxi versions of the 2011 Transit Connect. Both natural-gas and propane (liquified petroleum gas, or LPG) conversions will be offered.

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Comments (8)
  1. Unless it's a gift, who in their right mind would want a Commercial truck or taxi with a 80 mile range and 1000 lbs payload? In stop and go city traffic it won't even do 80 miles.
    And why do unsuspecting journalists keep parroting that maintenance will be less? If anything maintenance will increase due to all the new braking, charging, battery control, battery and motor systems failing at rates that would make a 1960's Jaguar proud.
    Green is not green when it isn't practical or economical.

  2. A lot of companies have short city routes that are ideal for electric vehicles. Inner city drivers will often have a route of 20-30 miles a day, so having a range of 80 miles is overkill.
    As for maintenance? Here in the UK, electric 'milk floats' have been in use for decades. There is one near where I live which was originally built in 1971 and is still in active service, delivering milk and groceries on a daily basis, 39 years later. This isn't a one off either - there are around 12,000 electric milk floats in daily use in the United Kingdom and most of these were originally built in the 1970s or 1980s.
    Electric vehicles have always been low maintenance vehicles. Back at the turn of the last century, electric taxis were everywhere in New York and London. In the days where a gasoline engine needed stripping down and rebuilding every 500 miles, electric taxis had a useful life of between 150,000-180,000 miles.

  3. Would you be able to drive long distances with this vechicle? Are there charging stations?

  4. of course there are newer charging stations installed at different places. Of course you will have to gather the details. and these vehicle are meant for normally shorter distances. Don't know how reliable they will be in terms of long distance traveling. The new ford vehicles designed on electric platform are really doing great all across the globe.

  5. Well i guess only maintenance costs have been the issues with Ford cars - not the reliability!

  6. The new electric version of 2011 Ford Transit Connect definitely looks cool, and is lot more promising in terms of fuel efficiency, if you really wanna' use it for transportation to run your business... I'd put my money on this one to transport loads of stuff, rather than buying one of Chevy's fuel sucking machines!

  7. There's an ice cream company called Twirlees in Canada that's building these pretty cool and cute ice cream trucks on these electric truck platforms. Totally beats those obnoxious loud desel emitting trucks out there now.
    Shows you how versatile a Transit is.

  8. These electric vehicle from Ford have come a long way. They are no more limited to these utility vehicles, now they come in the form of sleeker and more stylish models.

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