Electric vehicles (EVs) are seen as a key component in America's carbon-free energy diet of the future, and Ford is ready to step into the role of supplier. But before you putter down to the dealership in your gas guzzler with down payment in hand, take note: Ford's first mass-market foray into all-electric vehicles is the Transit Connect EV, a delivery van available later this year -- to large fleet customers only.
While a delivery van may lack the sexiness of a Tesla Roadster or the mass-consumer appeal of a sedan like the upcoming Chevy Volt, fleet vehicles are actually an ideal place for Ford to begin the shift to an alternatively-fueled future. Fleet vehicles rack up a lot of daily miles, often along preset routes that are not too terribly far from the motor pool, making range less of an issue and enabling easy charging regimens. And while the up-front cost is higher -- a possible deal-breaker for individual car buyers -- the operating cost is significantly cheaper, making EVs ideal for large commercial clients that can really see the benefits of reduced costs associated with maintaining large fleets.
The Transit Connect can fully charge in 6-8 hours on a 220-volt hook-up, and gets about 80 miles from a single charge. A 28 kilowatt lithium-ion battery mounts underneath the body, leaving 135 cubic feet of cargo space in the back. At peak the electric drivetrain churns out some 134 horsepower, which in turn gets the Transit Connect rolling at an unimpressive top speed of 75 miles per hour.
Which is perhaps another good reason for Ford to roll out its first EV only to fleet customers at first; the performance, while fine for a box van, might be underwhelming to those used to the brawn of American trucks and muscle cars. By getting the technology on the road, Ford can evaluate real-world performance before coming out to the larger consumer market, allowing the company time to tighten up any unforeseen problems and perhaps tweak overall performance in small ways.
In the meantime, the Transit Connect EV can seriously green up fleets across the country. Ford's current client list includes corporate behemoths like UPS that log countless road hours each day, so you can imagine the number of carbon-powered miles that could be saved over time if even a fraction of Ford's current clientele phases EVs into their fleets (are you taking notes, U.S. Postal Service?)
And if a 135-cubic-foot delivery van sounds like the perfect addition to your home garage or small business fleet, don't let the moratorium on non-fleet sales dampen your spirits; the Transit Connect EV will be available for individual purchase sometime next year.
@Editor - Sorry dude... it already began... with a speedster/roadster. The Tesla roadster showed America, beyond all reasonable doubt that EVs were real, here and now. FORD (and everyone else) are just finally coming around.
"unimpressive top speed of 75 miles per hour???"
How fast does a fracking delivery van need to go??? How old is this guy? We're not in the 60s anymore where we drive a 440 around the block to pick up groceries.
"might be underwhelming to those used to the brawn of American trucks and muscle cars"
They're a dying breed, in case you haven't noticed. The muscle car mentality is what has killed the American auto industry. Stop fighting it.
You also fail to highlight the biggest point of the FTC... it will cost around 5 cents per mile to operate. No oil changes. Fewer brake, engine, transmission servicing... etc, etc. This is a SOLID car for all American businesses to grow on.
@blax I didn't think the Tesla was on the market yet. Ford may have announced theirs later, but if I'm correct (which I could very well not be) Ford's will be on the road before the Tesla.
I think Ford is being extremely smart here. As noted in the article, this provides a significant long term benefit for fleets with a release from gas prices after the initial up front cost. Edging this market was a great business plan.
Also like the writer said, it gives them good real world data for further research into making a consumer available sedan or roadster to compete with the Tesla and Volt. Props to you Ford.
The Tesla costs six digits. Yeah, that's showing the electric car is for real. Oh, btw, electric cars predated gasoline-powered cars, but then as now, the batteries proved to be the sticking point. For fixed-route, limited-range duties this level of range/performance might be ideal, but I doubt batteries will ever develop to the point where they can outright replace the internal-combustion engine. Fuel cells might be the better long-term bet... but these would still require "a fuel".
The Tesla Roadster is already in production, but it is a high-end sports car. I really like John Carmack's review of the car when he received his production car number 30 that his wife bought him for his birthday. His review is on his www.ArmadilloAerospace.com (Full Archive) December 18th, 2008 update titled "Valve movement, Methane flights, Super module, Tesla".
Tesla has a less expensive sedan planned, but it isn't out yet. Maybe that is what you were thinking about?
This is a great plan. I do have a quibble, but it's with Popsci and not Ford. Actually it's with the media in general.
When discussing charging time, please include the current requirement. 6 - 8 hours @ 220V is not the whole story.
If you add in @ 10 amps ( or whatever) we could figure out the total power that's consumed. Better yet, you could say that a typical charge is beteween x and y KW hours.
As is, it's something like saying that it takes 5 minutes to fill the tank at a modern filling station.
@Editor I think "28 kilowatt lithium-ion battery" should be "28 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery".
Assuming The above is correct;
KW*HR = V * I * T
28,000 = 220 * I * 8
I = 15.9 amps
"but I doubt batteries will ever develop to the point where they can outright replace the internal-combustion engine."
lol, think again, batteries cannot be compared to ic engines for one.
Electric motors will by far exceed ic engines in future that i promise you ;)
Have you seen all the research? look it up the race for an electric motor power source barely started
and i can tell you so far i like what i see, it will take some time, but once the breakthrough
has been made, no one will look back and say, i wish i had a stove stoker under my hood. Primitive tech will die out
and the electric revolution will consume all. I can't wait.
We have purchased this van at van hire express and it sure lives up the hype. The speed for this is unreal compared to our other vans.
Ford is actually working with Smith Electric for Transit Connect EV, who has replaced the standard 2.0 4 cylinder gas engine with a 50kW electric motor, and further adding a 24kWh lithium ion iron phosphate battery pack; the whole package is reasonably decent for a conversion.
Lucy | www.relaxcarhire.co.uk
I am pleased to see the big thre finally doing something positive with the car production. However, is it too late? I sense their time is limited, as more and more of the second tier manufacturers continue to blitz the consumer market with smart economical and mostly environmentally friendly vehicles.
This van would be best suited for say a city center courier company that operates within a certain geographic area. The time they take to charge would be easily covered overnight and the 80 mile range sufficient for say multiple delivery drops. A move in the right direction but theres always some form of by product. Id have thought ethanol or hemp oil would be a better direction...until the free energy technology is released!!!