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Azure Dynamics to Develop Hybrid-Electric Powertrain for Ford E-Series

6 October 2006

E350
Ford 2007 E-350 van.

Azure Dynamics Corporation has signed an agreement with Ford Motor Company to enable Azure to develop a hybrid electric powertrain for Ford’s E-series commercial platform.

Azure is responsible for the development of the parallel hybrid-electric gasoline system that will be applied to Ford’s E-series commercial vehicles. Azure will be the Vehicle Modifier and will complete the hybrid modification on the E-350 and E-450 commercial chassis.

Ford, as the OEM of the incomplete commercial vehicles, will provide Azure with assistance to facilitate the development of the hybrid electric powertrain.

The E-series commercial chassis is applied in both truck and bus markets. The agreement between the two companies includes an intention for Azure to enter into a Ford Ship-Thru agreement which would allow the modified vehicles to be offered through the Ford distribution network.

Azure is currently working internationally with various partners and customers, including Purolator Courier Ltd., Canada Post, United States Postal Service, Smith Electric Vehicles, Workhorse Custom Chassis, DRS Sustainment Systems, Inc. and AM General LLC.

October 6, 2006 in Hybrids | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

This is an excellent application (said without knowing price) of this technology to these large cargo vans. There are a ton of these cargo and other cube-vans driving around Toronto all the time, I assume the same would hold for other large cities. This could save lots of gas/fumes.

Azure is well-known leader in series hybrids, which is excellent drivetrain to stop-and-go commercial vehicles, such as postal service vans. I really doubdt they have resources and expertise to develop such complicated and engine/trans/vehicle specific system as parallel hybrid.

Andrey,

Azure acquired their parallel hybrid platform when they bought out Solectria. They supplied a parallel hybrid van to USPS in May of 2006.

Ford's decision to outsource this effort is interesting. Perhaps they do not have enough electric powertrain experts in house.

Or, their new CEO may perceive hybrids as a niche market for the troubled company. This would echo Carlos Ghosn's own misgivings about the commercial viability of hybrids - we shall see if Ford and Nissan/Renault will enter into merger talks.

Azure:

Series hybrids are no brainier. Take any diesel-generator, any electric power drive, integrate it with power electronics, and manage to put it into chassis. Parallel hybrid is way more complicated. You have to take specific engine, modify it, take specific transmission, modify it, add appropriate electric motors drive, integrate it with power electronics, and adapt it to specific chassis. I believe that only engine, transmission, and vehicle manufacturer, knowing any bit of engine/tranny and their controls could do this kind of job – in couple of years and couple of billions. With all due respect to Azure, I do not see you having this kind of specific knowledge of Ford hardware.

I would be proud of my fellow Canadians to prove me wrong.

I wonder if the hybrid conversion will lower the center of gravity of these vehicles, making them more sure footed and less tippy. This is an important safety concern when these vans are used in a passenger carrying (rather than cargo carrying) capacity. Currently, either the Insurance Institute or NHSTA (I cannot recall which at the moment) strongly discourages the use of such vans for passenger carrying for just these reasons. It is a bit of a shame, because it takes around two standard minivans plus a sedan to replace the seating capacity that a single one of these monsters can provide (15 seats, in some models).

Andrey,

I hope AZD can pull this off. The company has in excess of 80 engineers.

Here's a bit of history on Azure Dynamics Chief Technology Officer.

Ronald V. Iacobelli
http://www.azuredynamics.com/roniacobelli.htm


Chief Technology Officer
Mr. Iacobelli joined Azure from Ballard Power Systems where he developed and led a supplier management program. Prior to that, Mr. Iacobelli spent 7 years at Ford Motor Company as Supplier Quality Manager, Senior Electrical Systems Engineer and Senior Chassis Systems Engineer. His experience includes exposure to all automotive systems with an emphasis on quality, manufacturing, process development and supplier management.

Prior to joining Ford, Mr. Iacobelli was a Thermal Station Engineer with Ontario Hydro. He has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Windsor and holds the P. Eng. designation in Ontario and British Columbia.

Here's some information on a member of Azure Dynamics' Advisory Board.

Michael McCabe

Launched the Ford Probe in 1989 and implemented marketing plans for the Ford Thunderbird and Mustang brands. He developed the marketing strategy for the Ford Ranger EV and the 2004 Ford Escape hybrid electric sport utility vehicle, he defined Ford Motor Company's TH!NK brand.




ford is putting the magic back in motown.It is good to see an american car company finaly take charge .American cars produce american jobs. With these new hybrids thats good for the economy and the environment. Good job ford

I own a delivery buisness in Michigan.
If Detroit would build the dam things,
I would buy (3) Three of them today!
My fleet of Ford Econoline vans average only =
12 MPG.!!

Dodge has been pimping their
Sprinter van plug in eletric.
They have built a total of (1) ONE!
A hollow "sound bite" gesture.

its excellent how hybrid technology is evolving into a wide array of vehicles

Azure

How long will the it take to develop the technology? My family is commited to go green whenever we can. We've been putting off buying a new vehicle hoping an 8 seater(or more) hybrid will come out soon. Yes, we're a household of 8 and our vehicle choices are very limited.

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