It’ll take a keen eye to see what’s different when Ford unveils the latest version of its Transit Connect van at this week’s Chicago Auto Show.
The automaker has gone out of its way to show off the flexibility of the quirky vehicle, which was named North American Truck of the Year, last month, from mobile pet grooming vehicle to catering truck. But with this particular version the clue is the small charge that replaces the Transit Connect’s conventional gasoline cap.
That’s because the Transit Connect electric will become the first new battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, in the Detroit maker’s line-up. It’s a decidedly different approach than most of Ford’s competitors. While most major automakers are plugging into what industry insiders have dubbed “electrification,” most are focusing on small city runabouts, like the Nissan Leaf.
But, “We see growing demand for these vehicles in commercial fleets,” says Scott Harrison, CEO of Azure Dynamics, the suburban Detroit firm that has partnered with Ford to develop the battery-powered version of the Transit Connect.