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Ford Unveils Electric Transit Connect, Transit Taxi with Alt Fuel Conversion at Chicago Auto Show

2011TransCon_Elec06_HR
The electric Transit Connect. Click to enlarge.

Ford Motor Company is unveiling the all-electric version of the Ford Transit Connect at the Chicago Auto Show; the small electric van will be in fleet operators’ hands later this year, according to the company. The 2011 Transit Connect Electric will use a Force Drive electric powertrain manufactured and integrated by specialty upfitter Azure Dynamics. (Earlier post.) The vehicle is powered by a liquid-cooled 28 kWh lithium-ion battery pack from Johnson Controls-Saft. (Azure Dynamics and Ford both currently use Johnson Controls-Saft battery technology for other products as well.)

Ford also announced that the Ford Transit Connect Taxi will go into production and arrive in dealerships later this year as a 2011 model. Ford will introduce engine prep packages on all Transit Connect models—base and taxi—allowing conversion to compressed natural gas (CNG) or propane (LPG, or liquefied petroleum gas) of the 2.0-liter Duratec engine.

Electric Transit Connect. System voltage range is 260 - 380 V. The electric powertrain includes:

  • Siemens model 135, 300V 3-phase AC liquid-cooled induction motor, 158 N·m continuous, 235 N·m peak
  • Borg-Warner 31-03 single speed transmission, gear ratio 8.28:1
  • 28 kWh, 16-module (192 cells) JCS Li-ion pack
  • Pack voltage range 215 - 390 V, 3.3 kW charger
  • TDK, 100A output DC/DC converter

The electric van will accelerate at approximately the same rate as the gas-powered Transit Connect and will have a top speed at 0% grade of 75 mph (121 km/h), with a targeted range of up to 80 miles (129 km) on a full charge.

Owners will have the option of recharging the Transit Connect Electric with either a standard 120V outlet or preferably a 240V charge station installed at the user’s base of operations for optimal recharging in six to eight hours. A transportable cord that works with both types of outlets will be available for recharging at both kinds of locations.

Both the Transit Connect Electric and its gasoline-powered twin offer:

  • 135 cubic feet of cargo volume with 59.1 inches of floor-to-ceiling load height and 47.8 inches of load width between the wheel arches

  • 72.6 inches of load space

  • Split rear cargo doors that open at a standard 180 degrees, or an optionally available 255 degrees

  • Lift-over height less than two feet when the vehicle is unloaded

  • Power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering allows a 39-foot curb-to-curb turning circle for maneuverability in tight urban spaces

The vehicle has a projected life of 10 years/120,000 miles. A 5 year/60,000 mile warranty covers the Azure powertrain and modified components.

In addition to the Transit Connect Electric, Ford plans to bring three more electrified vehicles to market by 2012 - the Focus Electric in 2011, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle in 2012 and a next-generation hybrid in 2012.

2011TransCon_Taxi12_HR
The Transit Connect Taxi’s cargo area accommodates compressed natural gas tanks directly behind the second-row seat, still allowing ample luggage storage. Click to enlarge.

Ford Transit Connect Taxi.The Transit Connect’s 135 cubic feet of cargo space accommodates a compressed gas tank while leaving ample passenger legroom and cargo capacity.

While meeting with taxi operators in cities throughout the US, we found considerable interest for vehicles that run on alternative fuels. The Transit Connect Taxi, combined with an engine modified by Ford to use CNG/LPG, is designed to meet that need. This marks a new era in ‘green’ transit.

—Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas

Ford will provide required calibration specifications for the CNG or LPG conversion. By properly following Ford’s specifications, the conversion can be completed without voiding the engine’s warranty.

Since October 2009, CNG prep packages have been available on E-Series vans with 5.4-liter and 6.8-liter gas engines.

Comments

Account Deleted

Note it takes 6 to 8 hours to charge the 28kWh battery. That is a maximum charging at 5kW. Both the Leaf and the iMiEV can do 50kW charging with a full battery in less than 30 minutes. I don’t get why Ford is not making level III charging (50kW) available for their Connect. If they did it would also be useful in a Taxi configuration. With only 80 miles range 50kW fast charging is an even more critical feature for a commercial vehicle.

danm

For taxi fleets or city maintenance vehicles battery swapping makes a lot of sense. or postal delivery.

Henry Gibson

Very few people understand the stress put on the power grid for high rate battery charging. It can more than double the cost of the electricity used. The cheapest way to do such charging is to have dedicated natural gas or propane operated engine generators at each high rate charging station. Such engines can also be used to support the grid when not being used for charging. Range extending on board generators are better and cheaper enginering than large lithium batteries. Such engines can be small and highly efficient.

Hybrid operation of any type reduces fuel consumption substantially. Even without using the possible smaller engine, the Artemis hydraulic hybrid reduced fuel consumption to one half in the city driving cycle for the identical vehicle after conversion.

The need for liquid cooling for the lithium batteries is a result of ignoring the cheaper, easier to use and better tested ZEBRA batteries proven to be superior in General Electric hybrid locomotive and mining truck tests.

The main other answer to reducing fuel imports is a massive program and economy stimulating project of building combined natural gas and coal to liquid fuel factories all over the world. ..HG..

dursun

The CNG & LPG conversions are half measures without a Turbo.
Ford has a 1.6L & 2.0L with Turbo in Europe. Why does the US always get short shrift.

Account Deleted

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lestrin

Could they charge the lithium cells consecutively in a domino effect as one is near
fully charged the power jumps to the next cell thereby reducing the load. What is the maximum charge time on an individual cell at 240v? times the number of cells.

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