Ford partnered with Azure Dynamics to produce the new Ford Transit Connect Electric, a new light commercial vehicle developed for commercial fleets. Azure Dynamics is well known for their high quality AC motors and drive systems for electric cars.
I'm talking today with Chris Abarca from Azure Dynamics, and I got a chance to ask him a few questions about the Ford Transit Connect Electric - how much payload capacity it has, what customization is available, which battery chemistry it uses, what incentives are available when you purchase.
Update: These vans have been discontinued. They're still really cool, though: )
Lynne: The Ford Transit Connect Electric would be considered a "light commercial vehicle", right? What sort of jobs does a light commercial vehicle do in a typical day?
Chris: The Transit Connect Electric is a light commercial vehicle that can potentially do what a half-ton pickup or van can do it has a 6 ft. load space. Typically our customers so far have been using it for urban package delivery, cable installation, mail delivery, utility service truck etc.
I see it has 1000 lb. payload capacity. Does that include passengers, or not?
Payload of 1000 lbs. would be cargo we take into consideration the weight of the driver so that leaves a net payload of 1000 lbs. We do offer a 5 passenger wagon which would take most of that 1000 lbs referenced.
Azure Dynamics also offers medium duty hybrid commercial trucks, right? Can you give me an idea of what sort of application would be most appropriate for each type of vehicle?
We do offer our Balance Hybrid System which is used on the E450 Ford chassis in shuttle bus, FedEx type delivery trucks. We plan to offer this system next year with a larger battery and a plug.
I saw that Western Michigan University recently placed an order for several of these trucks. What are their plans for their use, do you know?
Western Michigan will use the vehicles around campus for support of the school like IT, facility maintenance, landscaping.
I saw this on the brochure: "GSA Contract: Item #30E in AutoChoice*". What is this?
The GSA contract is how the Federal Government purchases vehicles, the Transit Connect is now on the GSA list so any Federal agency can purchase the TCE.
I noticed that the transit connect has a 28 kwh lithium battery pack. Can you tell me specifically what lithium chemistry is involved?
The chemistry is Lithium ion - NCA, which stands for oxides of nickel, cobalt and aluminum and is manufactured by Johnson Controls.
The range is 50-80 miles, is that calculated with a full payload at the lower end?
The range at the lower end is loaded.
What sort of incentives are available now for businesses to buy these trucks for their fleet, and how much do the vehicles cost?
Cost of the vehicle is $57,400 + destination for the cargo version, TCE does qualify for the $7500 EV Tax Credit as well as many different state incentives. For example, there is a $15,000 incentive in California.
How customizable are these, for particular applications?
You hit on the most attractive benefit of the TCE, it is extremely customizable, we have various window options, there are multiple up fits to customize the interior for tooling, parts or any other imaginable vocation including animal control vehicle.
I believe that this type of EV has many uses in our cities across the country, it is extremely utilitarian and fun to drive. I can't tell you how many fleet and business owners that are amazed at how they drive.
Thank you, Chris!