Friday, November 27, 2009

Ford Electric Transit Connect Van gliding in from Turkey, but where will they land in the states for USa?


Ford: Electric van in 2010
Battery-powered Transit Connect van will be targeted at small business owners.
By Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer
Last Updated: February 9, 2009: 2:26 PM ET
New York ( -- Ford Motor Co. will introduce its first all-electric vehicle in 2010, but it will be intended for business owners - not families. The electric Transit Connect, a small van, will be offered in "select" U.S. Ford dealerships.

"The new Transit Connect light commercial vehicle with battery electric power represents the next logical step in our pursuit of even greater fuel economy and sustainability," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president for global product development in a company announcement.

The van will able to to travel about 100 miles on a fully charged battery, according to Ford.

The introduction is part of a longer term electric-vehicle strategy that Ford announced at the Detroit Auto Show in January.

The plan also calls for a battery-powered small car in 2011 and "advanced hybrid" and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2012.

Non-electric Transit Connect vans will go on sale in the U.S. later this year as 2010 model year vehicles. Ford (F, Fortune 500) is marketing the van, which is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, as a more fuel-efficient and space-efficient alternative to larger work vehicles, such as ford's own E-series vans.

The Transit Connect has been sold in Europe since 2003, but this will be the first time the van is available in the U.S. Ford made some cosmetic changes to the van for its American introduction.

To create the electric Transit Connect, Ford is working with British firm Smith Electric Vehicles, which modifies existing commercial vehicles to use electric power. Smith already offers its customers electric versions of the Transit Connect.

Several other carmakers will also be introducing plug-in vehicles next year. General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) plans to sell its "range extended" electric car, the Chevrolet Volt, which will run on batteries but also have a small gasoline engine to generate electricity for longer range. Chrysler plans to sell a similar vehicle as well.

Toyota (TM) has also announced plans for a test fleet of plug-in Prius hybrids later this year, and Nissan (NSANY) plans to introduce an electric-only "city car" in 2010.

First Published: February 9, 2009: 11:52 AM ET

Kansas City looks to Smith Electric Vehicles plant for spark

Kansas City Business Journal - by Rob Roberts Staff Writer

View Larger Area development officials are working to give the Kansas City economy a jolt as home to one of the nation’s first assembly plants for electric-powered commercial vehicles.

Bryan Hansel, CEO of Smith Electric Vehicles U.S. Corp., confirmed that the company is considering a local site for production of vans and trucks — including an electric version of Ford Motor Co.’s new Transit Connect light-duty vehicle.

“The state of Missouri, and the Kansas City area specifically, have been vying for it very aggressively,” said Hansel, whose Overland Park home address is doubling as the company’s until a corporate headquarters and plant are secured.

Sites in Mississippi, Michigan and Indiana also remain in contention, Hansel cautioned, and other states have made pitches since Ford’s Feb. 9 announcement that Smith Electric Vehicles U.S. would build electric-powered Transit Connects for the North American market.

Still, local economic development leaders remain optimistic that this area’s concentration of advanced-energy assets will give it the juice to power an anticipated explosion of zero-emission commercial vehicle sales.

The Kansas City Area Development Council created an Advanced Energy Task Force in December to tout and build on current local assets. They include the Midwest Research Institute, which operates the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.; the energy divisions of global engineering firms Black & Veatch and Burns & McDonnell; and Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant, where hybrid versions of the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner are made.

President Obama made reference to assets like the local Ford plant during his Feb. 24 address to Congress, noting that “new plug-in hybrids roll off our assembly lines, but they will run on batteries made in Korea.”

That, however, may not be the case with vehicles assembled at the new Smith Electric Vehicles plant.

Hansel said another local energy asset, Kokam America Inc. in Lee’s Summit, may be one of the plant’s lithium-ion battery vendors. Kokam America, which uses technology licensed from South Korea-based Kokam Co. Ltd., recently landed an investment worth tens of millions of dollars to equip its Lee’s Summit facility to manufacture cutting-edge battery packs.

“Kokam is a world-class manufacturer,” Hansel said, “and we are giving them strong consideration as a battery supplier. Most likely, we’ll have more than one.”

Valence Technology, based in Austin, Texas, is the primary battery supplier for a British plant operated by Smith’s parent, The Tanfield Group Plc., which has been making electric vehicles in England since 1920.

Tanfield incorporated Smith Electric Vehicles U.S. in January but plans to sell 51 percent of the company to U.S. investors, making it eligible for some of the $2 billion in federal stimulus financing aimed at developing the nation’s electric-vehicle industry.

On Feb. 6, Tanfield reported that Smith Electric Vehicles U.S. already had received “firm expressions from two states of funding support” for its new manufacturing plant.

State incentive offers will be important in attracting the facility, Hansel said. But locating within an advanced-energy industry cluster like Kansas City’s also will be “critical” due to the need for skilled labor, after-market service and support, and training, he said.

“This isn’t just about our company. It’s about creating a center of excellence for an industry,” he said.

Another factor working in Kansas City’s favor, and against late-to-the-dance suitors, is Smith Electric Vehicles’ timetable.

Electric-powered Transit Connects, the initial offering in Ford’s sweeping North American electrification strategy, won’t hit selected dealerships on this continent until 2010. But Smith Electric Vehicles U.S. plans to begin production of the Smith Newton, a medium-duty electric delivery truck, in the third quarter of this year.

A 200,000-vehicle-a-year market is anticipated for such trucks, and Smith Electric Vehicles U.S. plans to grab an initial 5 percent, or 10,000-truck, share of that market. That translates to about 100 year-one jobs, a number that is expected to at least double within three years, Hansel said.

Some of the vehicles made at the plant will require conversion of chassis that come mounted with diesel engines, Hansel said. Because of the high volume of sales anticipated, however, Ford has agreed to ship the Transit Connect chassis as “gliders,” or without engines.

“Our job will be to put in the drivetrain and regenerative braking, integrate it with their dash and components, and deliver the vehicle to Ford dealers as an electric version,” Hansel said.

He said the Ford gliders would be shipped from Turkey and delivered to the U.S. plant on flatbed trucks.

“This is the advanced-technology, green-job kind of thing that the new administration and everybody’s talking about,” said Pete Fullerton, executive director of the Platte County Economic Development Council. “It would be a great thing for this area because there are lots of people with technical skills out there looking for new employment these days.”

Posted on Fri, Oct. 30, 2009
Plans for plug-in van pulled
The Kansas City Star

Smith Electric Vehicles will not partner with Ford Motor Co. to build a battery-powered light commercial van in Kansas City next year, but instead will focus on assembling medium-size delivery trucks.

Bryan Hansel, chief executive of SEV U.S. Corp., said it was a mutual decision by the new British-American firm, which began operations this month at Kansas City International Airport, and Ford to drop plans for a plug-in version of the Ford Transit Connect.

The move will let Smith Electric concentrate on its “core business” — the Smith Newton electric truck. The firm has 255 orders for the Smith Newton being assembled here and has produced nine vehicles. The vehicle can travel up to 100 miles between rechargings and haul more than 8 tons.

“We’re extremely excited because we believe we’re in a strong position to own the cab-over-truck market,” Hansel said Friday.

The Ford Transit Connect, which uses a car-based chassis, posed development and competitive challenges that Smith Electric and its British associate, The Tanfield Group, decided to avoid. Darren Kell, chief executive of Tanfield, issued a statement saying building the Smith Newton was a better use of the company’s financial resources.

The company said it “was concerned that the market for electric-car-derived vans would become increasingly competitive.”

Ford confirmed the parting was mutual and said it has a new deal with Azure Dynamics Corp. of Oak Park, Mich., to build the Transit Connect.

“While both companies are committed to ensuring the success of their electric vehicle product lines, it became clear that our companies were pursuing different markets and we would better achieve our goals individually or through different partnerships,” Ford spokeswoman Jennifer Moore said in a statement.

Smith Electric said it planned to develop a prototype electric delivery van for testing by the Postal Service. The firm will collaborate with AM General, based in South Bend, Ind. The Postal Service operates 178,000 gas-powered vans.

AM General will manufacture the chassis, and Smith Electric will supply the electric drive train, which includes the motor, battery pack, electronics and ancillary systems.

As for the long-term future of Smith Electric in Kansas City, Hansel said the firm’s preference was to stay. It has a one-year lease on a former aircraft maintenance building at KCI but wants to build a full-scale plant.

City development officials said they believed that other states, particularly Michigan, would be courting the company hard with incentives for that bigger investment.

“It’s ours to lose,” Hansel said, adding that development officials over the last two months have stepped up efforts to keep Smith Electric in Kansas City.

Ford announced a change in direction today for its Transit Connect BEV program.

Azure Dynamics will be partnering with Ford on bringing its first new electric vehicle to market. Last February however, the automaker announced that it would be working with Smith Electric Vehicles to produce the plug-in cargo van starting in 2010. We checked with Ford spokeswoman Jennifer Moore who told us that Ford and Smith had mutually decided they had different goals and would go their separate ways.

Azure will take the lead on finishing the electric TC including integrating its "Force Drive" powertrain. The TC will be using lithium ion batteries supplied by Johnson Controls-Saft who will also be supplying the electric Focus in 2011 and the new plug-in hybrid coming in 2012.

Ford and Azure already have a relationship thanks to the E450 chassis that Azure uses to build hybrid shuttle buses. Azure will be switching its hybrid shuttles over to the JCS batteries next year as well.

The Transit Connect will have a range of approximately 80 miles per charge, and will be available to commercial fleets starting sometime in 2010.

FD: Before it is NEWS, it is a Press Release....

Ford and Azure Dynamics Team Up
To Deliver Battery Electric Commercial Van In 2010
- Ford Motor Company, collaborating with Azure Dynamics, will introduce battery electric Transit Connect commercial van to market in 2010
- The Transit Connect BEV is the first production vehicle from accelerated electric vehicle strategy, which includes Ford Focus BEV passenger car in 2011, and a next-generation hybrid and plug-in hybrid in 2012
- Azure Dynamics will integrate its proprietary Force Drive(TM) battery electric drive train in the Transit Connect BEV
- Johnson Controls-Saft selected as battery supplier for Transit Connect BEV
Oak Park, Michigan - October 30, 2009 - Ford Motor Company announced today that Azure Dynamics Corporation (TSX: AZD) has joined in a collaborative effort to deliver a pure battery electric Ford Transit Connect van for the United States and Canadian markets in 2010. Azure will integrate its Force Drive(TM) battery electric drive train in the Transit Connect van for commercial fleet and retail use. The collaboration with Azure Dynamics for the Transit Connect BEV will build on the existing business relationship between Ford and Azure as well as their shared experience with battery supplier, Johnson Controls-Saft. "We recognize an increasing interest in electrified vehicles and have an aggressive strategy to bring these vehicles to the marketplace," said Nancy Gioia, Ford director of Global Electrification. "Our work with Azure to create a pure electric battery Transit Connect vehicle will allow us to offer our commercial customers an additional option for environmentally friendly transportation." The Transit Connect BEV will be built on Ford's global commercial vehicle platform as part of the company's One Ford global product vision. It is the first of four electrified vehicles from Ford that will become available over the next three years in the U.S. and Canada including:
- Battery electric Transit Connect van in 2010
- Battery electric Ford Focus passenger car in 2011
- Next generation hybrid vehicle in 2012
- Plug-In hybrid vehicle in 2012
Collaboration builds on existing business relationship
Azure Dynamics develops hybrid electric and electric drive technology for shuttle buses and commercial trucks, such as the Balance(TM) Hybrid Electric, which is built on the Ford E-450 cutaway and strip chassis for the medium duty commercial vehicle segment. "The opportunity to work with Ford on the Transit Connect BEV is a breakthrough advancement for us at Azure and for the light commercial vehicle market," said Scott Harrison, Azure Dynamics CEO. "For Azure, it's an important evolution of our existing relationship with Ford. From an industry standpoint, we are seeing delivery fleet and utility vehicle operators move to smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles. The Transit Connect BEV will come to market at an ideal time to meet this growing trend." Oak Park, Mich.-based Azure Dynamics will integrate its proprietary Force Drive(TM) battery electric drive train into the Transit Connect BEV, which will have a targeted range of 80 miles minimum on a full charge and zero tailpipe emissions. Force Drive(TM) components have previously been deployed in more than 40 vehicle integrations and have more than 25 million miles of on-the-road experience. The Transit Connect BEV will offer fleet owners the opportunity to eliminate the use of gasoline and help to lower operating costs. The vehicle will be badged with both the Ford Blue Oval and Azure's Force Drive logo. Azure Dynamics has selectedJohnson Controls-Saft as the supplier for lithium-ion battery cells and battery packs for the Transit Connect BEV. Azure Dynamics and Ford both currently utilize Johnson Controls-Saft battery technology for other products. The Transit Connect BEV will use the same proven cell technology that is currently deployed in the Ford Escape plug-in hybrid fleet that is on the road today. In addition, Azure had previously announced it would use Johnson Controls-Saft lithium-ion batteries for its E- 450 Balance Hybrid Electric beginning in the second half of 2010. The shared supplier business relationship is expected to provide additional synergy between Ford and Azure in the Transit Connect BEV project. Transit Connect commercial platform ideal choice for battery electric power The Ford Transit Connect already is a proven global success. Ford introduced the gasoline-engine Transit Connect to North America this year. With a unique combination of car-like driving dynamics, cargo capacity, accessibility and low purchase and operation costs, it is an ideal choice for electrification. Commercial users often travel predictable, short-range routes with frequent stop and go driving
in urban and suburban environments. For customers seeking sustainable mobility solutions, the Transit Connect Battery Electric Vehicle with Azure Force Drive(TM) will provide a zero emissions option. The Transit Connect was designed, engineered and manufactured on a dedicated global commercial vehicle platform to beat tough commercial vehicle durability standards. The final manufacturing location for the Transit Connect BEV has not yet been determined. About Ford Motor Company Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 201,000 employees and about 90 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford's products, please visit
About Azure Dynamics Corporation Azure Dynamics Corporation (TSX: AZD) is a world leader in the development and production of hybrid electric and electric components and powertrain systems for commercial vehicles. Azure is strategically targeting the commercial delivery vehicle and shuttle bus markets and is currently working internationally with various partners and customers. The Company is committed to providing customers and partners with innovative, cost-efficient, and environmentally-friendly energy management solutions. For more information please visit
# # #
Forward-looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements. More particularly, this press release contains statements concerning Azure's business development strategy, projected commercial revenues and product deliveries. The forward-looking statements are based on certain key expectations and assumptions made by Azure, including expectations and assumptions concerning achievement of current timetables for development programs, target market acceptance of Azure's products, current and new product performance, availability and cost of labor and expertise, and evolving markets for power for transportation vehicles. Although Azure believes that the expectations and assumptions on which the forward-looking statements are based are reasonable, undue reliance should not be placed on the forward-looking statements because Azure can give no assurance that they will prove to be correct. Since forward-looking statements address future events and conditions, by their very nature they involve inherent risks and uncertainties.

Actual results could differ materially from those currently anticipated due to a number of factors and risks.

These include, but are not limited to, the risks associated with Azure's early stage of development, lack of product revenues and history of losses, requirements for additional financing, uncertainty as to commercial viability, uncertainty as to product development and commercialization milestones being met, uncertainty as to the market for Azure's products and unproven acceptance of Azure's technology, competition for capital, product
market and personnel, uncertainty as to target markets, dependence upon third parties, changes in environmental laws or policies, uncertainty as to patent and proprietary rights, availability of management and key personnel, and acquisition integration risk.

These risks are set out in more detail in Azure's annual information form which can be accessed at

The forward-looking statements contained in this press release are made as of the date hereof and Azure undertakes no obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statements or information, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, unless so required by applicable securities laws. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON AZURE, CONTACT: Mike Elwood, Azure Dynamics Vice President - Marketing, 905-607-3486 x203 Email: Patrick Liebler, Liebler Group, (248) 229-4418 Email:

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