Ford and Azure Dynamics have inked a collaborative agreement today (4 May) to begin delivering a pure battery electric version of the Transit Connect van to Europe beginning in late summer next year.

Azure will integrate its Force Drive battery electric drive train into Transit Connect vehicles in Europe to support the sale of the zero-emission battery-electric models in selected markets.

“We’re proud of Transit Connect as it has conclusively proved itself to be a versatile, adaptable and thoroughly dependable vehicle for real world commercial customers,” said Ford of Europe chairman and CEO John Fleming.

“Adding a practical, full battery-electric, zero-emission alternative to the range further demonstrates the flexibility of this vehicle.

In North America, Azure develops hybrid electric and electric drive technology for shuttle buses and commercial trucks, such as the Balance Hybrid Electric, which is built on a Ford E-450 ‘cutaway and strip’ chassis for the medium duty commercial vehicle segment.

Michigan-based Azure began work on its collaborative agreement to deliver the pure battery-electric powertrain for the Transit Connect in the US and Canada in October 2009. Extending this collaboration into Europe is the first time Azure will operate in the region.

“We’re excited about the extension of the Transit Connect Electric programme to Europe and understand that putting electric vehicles on the world’s roads in significant quantities will be a long term proposition,” said Azure Dynamics CEO Scott Harrison.

“The European Union and individual governments are keen to encourage adoption of electric transportation technology because they understand the potential benefits to energy infrastructure and to society at large,” Harrison added. 

“We believe that European commercial vehicle customers will be eager to adopt the Transit Connect Electric into their fleets, to demonstrate their commitment to becoming part of the solution.”

The Transit Connect Electric will have a targeted range of up to 80 miles (130km) on a full charge and zero exhaust emissions.  It will be rechargeable using standard European 220/240-volt outlets within six to eight hours.

‘Glider’ units, vehicles built without the powertrain, will be shipped from the current Ford Otosan manufacturing facility in Kocaeli, Turkey, directly to an Azure-contracted manufacturing location in Europe for final assembly.

The completed Transit Connect Electric will then be sold by Azure Dynamics, who will define a specially-created network of dealerships. Repair works under the Ford warranty will be provided by Ford dealers, with the model offered in both right- and left-hand drive configurations.

The Transit Connect Electric is the first of several electrified vehicles – battery-electric, hybrid-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles – under development as part of Ford’s global electrification strategy and all of which will be launched in Europe by 2013.