Azure Dynamics Corporation announced AT&T has agreed to purchase two of the first Ford Transit Connect Electric vans, the latest addition to AT&T’s growing fleet of alternative-fuel vehicles.
The Ford Transit Connect Electric — the all-electric version of the 2010 Ford Transit Connect, the North American Truck of the Year — will be powered by Azure Dynamics’ patented Force Drive(TM) electric drivetrain with an advanced lithium-ion battery from Johnson Controls-Saft. The vehicle, which goes on sale later this year, has a range of up to 80 miles on a single charge and will be rechargeable using either 240-volt or standard 120-volt outlets. It has a top speed of 75 miles per hour.
“Cleaner, alternative-fuel vehicles are the future of our corporate fleet, and the Transit Connect Electric represents a real breakthrough and will be a strong addition to our range of alternative-fuel vehicles,” said Jerome Webber, vice president of fleet operations at AT&T. “It’s exactly the kind of vehicle we envisioned when we mapped our long-term vision to invest up to $565 million to deploy more than 15,000 alternative-fuel vehicles through 2018.” AT&T currently operates more than 77,000 vehicles in its corporate fleet, including 15 gasoline-powered Ford Transit Connect vehicles AT&T began piloting in 2009.
Scott T. Harrison, CEO of Azure Dynamics, said Transit Connect Electric project is in line with his company’s mission.
“Our business is built on great technology, committed partners and customers who want to improve efficiency while reducing their environmental footprint,” Harrison said. “The Transit Connect Electric brings all of those elements together in a single package and is exactly on target with our goal at Azure of ‘driving a world of difference.'”
According to Harrison, commercial vehicles are ideal candidates for electrification due to typical duty cycle characteristics like predictable drive routes and a return to a central location each night for recharging. The zero tailpipe emission Ford Transit Connect Electric also will help protect air quality in the urban environments where it operates.
By combining car-like driving dynamics with truck-like cargo capacity, Ford Transit Connect Electric is well-suited to the demands placed on urban delivery vehicles for small businesses and larger, corporate fleets.
The Transit Connect Electric is expected to offer lower cost of operation because recharging with electricity is generally less expensive than refueling with gasoline. Additionally, customers will benefit from lower maintenance costs as the electric drive train has far fewer moving parts to maintain.
“Ford Transit Connect was first introduced in the U.S. last year as a new fuel efficient alternative to larger commercial vehicles. Adding the electric option addresses a growing demand from our customers for sustainable vehicles for their fleets,” said Gerry Koss, Ford fleet marketing manager. “This Transit Connect Electric represents the first in a family of electrified vehicles, including new hybrids, plug-in hybrids and all battery electric vehicles, which Ford will deliver over the next three years.”
AT&T plans to take delivery of the Transit Connect Electric in late 2010.