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Orders Roll in for Ford Transit Connect Electric

Battery van gaining fans.

by on Aug.30, 2011

Initial demand for the Ford/Azure Dynamics Transit Connect Electric van is exceeding expectations.

What was supposed to be a niche vehicle appears to be gaining some unexpected momentum.    Demand for the battery version of Ford’s Transit Connect van is pushing past initial expectations.

The Transit Connect Electric is a joint venture of Ford and the Canadian Azure Dynamics.  The Vancouver-based firm’s lithium-ion-powered driveline gives the compact commercial van a roughly 80 mile range, which the partners are betting hits the sweet spot for delivery services and other urban users.

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While that market is modest, so were Ford and Azure’s initial expectations, with first year sales targets of no more than around 700.  But early demand suggests that demand could push past that goal.

Azure Dynamics has announced its Norwegian Ford dealership, RøhneSelmer, has ordered an additional 100 all electric Transit Connect Electric vans. Its original March order was for just 58 of the vans, which were sold to a variety of clients, among them Norway Post.

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Ford to Partner with Azure on F-Series Plug-in

Technology to allow SuperDuty models to operate in electric-only mode.

by on Jul.29, 2011

Ford will turn to Azure Dynamics to convert the biggest of its F-Series models into plug-in hybrids.

Can the full-size pickup go from being a gas-guzzling behemoth to the poster child for environmental efficiency?  A new partnership teaming up Ford and Canadian-based Azure Dynamics aims to bring the F-Series truck a big step closer to being earth-friendly.

Early in 2013, the partners plan to come to market with a plug-in hybrid version of some of the biggest of Ford’s popular trucks, starting with the F-550 but later adding the F-450 and F-350 models.  The technology would allow the trucks to operate in electric-only mode at low speeds while also reducing fuel consumption at higher speeds in hybrid mode.

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Azure Dynamics has already been working with Ford on several projects including the battery-powered conversion of the Dearborn maker’s small commercial van, dubbed the Transit Connect Electric, as well as a version of the Ford E-Van converted to hybrid power.

For the moment, the partners aren’t saying much about the specific technology that will replace the conventional F-Series powertrain, though it is likely to be similar to the E-Van conversion, they hint.  The modified driveline, called the E-450 Balance, starts out with a conventional Ford 5.4-liter V-8 with a 5-speed automatic transmission.  But an electric motor connected to that gearbox provides alternative power in electric drive mode, while also adding battery assist during acceleration.  When coasting or braking it goes into regenerative mode to reclaim energy normally lost.

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Ford Lines up European Buyers for Transit Connect Electric Van

Fleet buyers helping push demand for battery power.

by on Mar.29, 2011

The Transit Connect Electric has a range of up to 80 miles per full charge, and can be recharged using 110 or 220 volts.

Ford Motor Company and Azure Dynamics have announced that the Norwegian Post has becomes the first European customer of the Ford Transit Connect Electric, placing an order for 20 of the battery-electric vans, or BEVs.

“The Norwegian Post will be an environmental leader in the mail and logistics industry by taking advantage of the latest technology available,” said Dag Mejdell, CEO of the Scandinavian nation’s postal service.

“In signing a contract for delivery of the new Ford Transit Connect Electric, the Norwegian Post is taking an important step towards its goal of reducing 150,000 (metric) tonnes of CO2 annually,” Mejdell said, noting his agency has an option to purchase more.

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Norwegian Post is the largest provider of mail and logistics services and the biggest employer in Norway.

Ford and its partner Azure Dynamics, of Oak Park, MI recently began a pilot program for the Transit Connect Electric last December.  (Click Here for more.) A conversion of the standard Transit Connect van, sales officially begin in the summer of 2011.

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Azure Dynamics Lands Record Hybrid Truck Order

Purolator looks to alternative power for delivery fleet.

by on Jan.17, 2011

A Transit Connect Electric van under construction at Azure's suburban Detroit facility.

Azure Dynamics has landed a record order for hybrid delivery trucks from global shipping company Purolator, the start-up firm will announce later today.

While miniscule compared to the sales numbers of passenger car hybrids, like the Toyota Prius or Ford Escape Hybrid, the 600-unit order underscores the shift from conventional to alternative power beginning to sweep through the commercial vehicle market.

A senior official with Canadian-based Azure Dynamics estimate that, “on the conservative side,” hybrids could soon account for anywhere from 5% to 10% of the medium-duty truck market, or as much as 30,000 units in a healthy U.S. market.  And demand could grow substantially, forecasts CEO Scott Harrison, if fuel prices keep climbing.

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The Purolator order, which will be delivered over the next three years, represents “a significant turning point” for Azure Dynamics, one of the two major players in the commercial hybrid truck market.  The firm has been steadily narrowing the losses Harrison says are to be expected of a player in such an emerging market, one where start-up costs are substantial.

“We could come pretty close to cash flow breakeven this year,” Harrison said during an interview with TheDetroitBureau.com.

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