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Ford to debut all-electric Transit Connect van

Ford to debut all-electric Transit Connect van
In its latest effort at green technology, Ford is introducing an all-electric version of its Transit Connect van.

The automaker announced that it will pull the curtain off the new 2011 Transit Connect at the Chicago Auto Show on Wednesday. Designed to be used by fleet operators, the Transit Connect Electric is slated to go into production and into the hands of customers by the end of the year.

The Transit Connect Electric has a top speed of 75 miles per hour, will travel up to 80 mph on a single charge, and can be recharged using 240-volt or standard 120-volt outlets. As such, Ford is targeting the van to fleet owners who use the same general routes and have access to a central location where they can plug in the vehicle to recharge the battery.

For the redesign, Ford has teamed up with Azure Dynamics to replace the Transit Connect's gasoline engine with Azure's Force Drive battery electric powertrain. Ford is also outfitting the van with a lithium ion battery created by Johnson Controls-Saft.

"Transit Connect Electric exemplifies how we are leveraging our relationships as well as our hybrid and advanced powertrain programs to bring energy-efficient technologies from the laboratory to the street," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of global product development, in a statement. "Not only is this an ideal vehicle for eco-conscious fleet operators, it is an important part of Ford's future."

Ford said that the Transit Connect Electric is just the first in its growing electric-vehicle plan and will be followed by the Focus Electric in 2011 and another hybrid in 2012.

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