The Transit Connect represents a new entry into a vacant commercial market in the US, and as such Ford is planning on entering with both barrels blazing. Aside from the standard gas engine Transit Connect, Ford is planning to introduce two varieties of all-electric Transit available in the second half of 2010. Since most commercial market buyers know the daily range of their vehicles they'll be able to buy for their targeted range, the entry level version will come with a 60 mile lithium ion battery and the buyer can opt for a 100 mile if their application calls for it. The commercial entry for EV makes a lot of sense when you consider the vehicles will be under the most severe duty cycles as well as closely monitored by fleet operators, it makes collecting field data an engineers dream.
As noteworthy as the actual van is, the production method merits a mention as well. The rolling chassis and interior will be assembled right next to the regular Transit Connect, but at the point where the powertrain is set for installation, the BEV Transit Connect will get nothing. The unfinished vehicle then gets shipped to its destination port, where it will be delivered to longtime EV outfitter Smith Electric Vehicles, who will install the batteries, power control module, and 50 KW drive unit, as well as wrap up the final assembly elements. Then it's back on the truck for delivery to the local dealer.
The idea of an electric Transit Connect is interesting, but it's only a part of Ford's electric and hybrid strategy going forward. They've also announced an electric small car for 2011, the Ford version of the next-generation hybrid in 2012 and a plug-in hybrid for 2012. This seemingly aggressive timing reflects the last few years of non-stop work on electrification coming to fruition. Considering that timing on the small car, we wouldn't be shocked (heh) to see either the Ford Fiesta or the next generation C1 global platform Ford Focus hitting dealers in electric form.
We often malign electric vehicles, but it's due primarily to the wild-eyed claims from startups with some neat sketches and venture capital money. Now that Ford is giving us dates and vehicles, we're intrigued. Nothing will ever replace a cammed-out V8 or a frantically turbocharged inline four, but we'd be lying if we said we aren't at least curious. Complete details below: