Ford surprised everyone earlier this year when it snagged the 2010 North American Truck of the Year award with a small-van-hatchback thingy. The Ford Transit Connect won over the judges with its big truck utility and small car footprint. Even we have to admit that it's an efficient little package.
Hot on the heels of the win, Ford announced that it was developing a battery-electric vehicle version of the Transit Connect in partnership with Azure Dynamics that will go into production in mid-to-late 2010. Well, 2010 is here and so is the Ford Transit Connect Electric. We were given a tour of the electric prototype, and then were tossed the keys and allowed to take it for a spin around the block. The BEV surprised us with just how normal it was.
The interesting thing about the Transit BEV is that--save for the gaudy electric blue graphics--there's not much different from the gasoline variant, at least not on the surface. Both vehicles have about the same footprint as a Ford Focus and both have the same 135-foot cargo volume. There are split cargo doors at the rear as well as rear-sliding doors on both sides. The Transit is designed primarily with fleet buyers in mind (such as cab, delivery, and service uses). As a result, it can be ordered with rear seats or configured as a cargo van with an empty cargo bay and a dividing wall separating the driver from the payload. She's not looker, but the general consensus is that the Transit Connect gets the job done.
If you lift the Transit BEV's hood, it's immediately obvious that this is no ordinary fleet vehicle. Ford replaced the Transit's 2.0-liter drivetrain with a high-voltage electric motor that sends torque through a single-speed gearbox to the front wheels. Behind the fuel cap is an electrical charging port that accepts 120V and 240V AC power. It then converts it to DC power for storage in the BEV's 28kWh lithium ion battery pack, which resides where the gas tank used to live. Because the electric drivetrain doesn't have the alternator or a vacuum system of its internally-combusting sibling, the electric Transit Connect features all-electric power steering, cooling, heating, air conditioning, brake boosting, and other systems. There's also a step-down transformer that takes the high-voltage power coming out of the battery and outputs lower-voltage power for running 12V accessories.… Read more