Ford Motor Co announced the collaboration with Smith Electric Vehicles on their first electric vehicle which will be released on the US market by 2010. The electric car will be based on Ford Transit Connect compact van.
At the North American International Auto Show(NAIAS) in Detroit in January, Executive Chairman Bill Ford unveiled an accelerated plan to introduce to the market during the next four years A next-generation hybrid-electric vehicle (HEV), a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and battery-electric vehicle (BEV).
The BEV version is the Transit Connect commercial vehicle and will go on sale by 2010. The autonomy of the car is estimated to around 100 miles.
Ford’s group vice president of Global Product Development, Derrick Kuzak said: “The new Transit Connect light commercial vehicle with battery electric power represents the next logical step in our pursuit of even greater fuel economy and sustainability. A growing number of our commercial vehicle fleet clients have expressed interest in electrification as a sustainable mobility solution. By leveraging our global team and asset portfolio, we’re able to quickly bring this environmentally friendly, strong ‘silent type’ to market.”
In Europe – UK, Ford Motor works with Smith Electric Vehicles, part of the Tanfield Group, to finalize the electric versions of Ford Transit and Transit Connect commercial vehicles. Ford provides the chassis and Smith Electric integrates everything else: drivetrain, the battery packs, the control systems, all needs to fit perfectly and work with the existing vehicle systems.
Smith Electric have been buying the lithium phosphate batteries from Valence Technology in Austin, Texas but they have also been working with a number of other battery companies as well so it’s not yet sure what kind of batteries will be seen in the US vehicles.
Smith Electric is planning to build a new facility in US and they already made a venture base called Smith Electric Vehicles US. Tanfield Group set up the venture as a majority U.S.-owned business, which means it can apply for what it says is “substantial” federal and regional funding for electric vehicle manufacturers in the U.S. Their aims is to raise $10 million for the new business, with investors (not just government funding).
In the UK, Smith Electric is operating on a small-scale, selling hundreds of demonstration vehicles for use of Sainsbury’s, the Royal Mail, DHL and others. They built 260 vehicles in 2007, going from compact vans models based on the Ford Transit Connect, up to the much larger Newton truck, which uses a chassis from the Czech Republic’s Avia.