At the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, Ford displayed a zero emission concept version vehicle that could become part of the European Connect range if customer interest is sufficient. Jarlath Sweeney – www.fleetcar.ie got a closer look in Munich.
The Tourneo Connect BEV Concept showcased a full Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) powertrain and was developed in collaboration with Smith Electric Vehicles, the European market’s leading battery electric specialist converter of commercial vehicles, which is part of the UK-based Tanfield Group of companies.
“The Tourneo Connect BEV concept shows how Ford’s collaboration with Tanfield is extending the company’s global electric vehicle plan to Europe,” said John Fleming, Chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe. “The technology is already available for commercial vehicle applications, and at the 2009 Chicago Show we confirmed that we will launch, with Tanfield as our partner, the Transit Connect van as a full BEV in North America in 2010.
“Although conceptual for now, if there is sufficient interest, this silent, zero emission technology could be applied to the Tourneo Connect quite quickly. We think it would be an ideal solution for taxi use, as a hotel shuttle vehicle or similar inner city application,” Fleming added.
“Offering the Ford Connect vehicle family with battery electric power represents the next logical step in our pursuit of even greater fuel economy and sustainability,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president of Global Product Development. “We know a growing number of our fleet clients have expressed interest in electrification as a sustainable mobility solution. By leveraging our global team and asset portfolio, we’re able to bring this environmentally friendly, strong ‘silent type’ quickly to market as a van, and we believe there are enormous possibilities for a Tourneo Connect passenger model as well.”
The Tourneo Connect BEV Concept has been developed in collaboration with a proven partner for electrification – the UK-based specialist company Smith Electric Vehicles, part of the Tanfield Group.
Since 2007 Ford has collaborated with Tanfield on the development of battery-electric vehicles on Ford chassis, including the Transit medium commercial and Transit Connect. In Ireland, the UK and select European markets, Tanfield already offers battery electric versions of the Ford Transit medium commercial vehicle to fleet customers, and expects to deliver its first Transit Connect BEVs later this year.
For the Tourneo Connect BEV Concept, latest level battery electric technology was chosen. A 21 kWh Lithium-Ion Phosphate battery pack accumulates the energy to drive a 50 kW permanent magnet motor, while the drive torque is transmitted to the driveshafts by a single-speed transmission. Using this set-up, Smith Electric Vehicles is targeting a range of up to 160 km (100 miles), and a top speed of 113 km/h (70 mph).
Recharging the vehicle is also an easy exercise: the onboard battery charger can be plugged directly into a standard mains socket, and a full battery charge is accomplished in 6 to 8 hours.
“We strongly believe that the Tourneo Connect BEV Concept is pointing in the right direction,” said Fleming. “It demonstrates a more than reasonable blend of environmentally responsible performance, day-to-day practicality, and low cost of ownership. We will monitor feedback from the public and the media to this concept very closely, and if there is sufficient interest we will work with Tanfield on a plan to put the vehicle into production.”
“We’re working on extending the global Ford electric vehicles plan into our European portfolio, and while the Tourneo Connect BEV is a practical start that could go into production quickly, we will have more to say on our plans for the mid-term later on this year,” Fleming said.
The Ford Transit Connect will arrive in the North American market for the first time in summer 2009. This model takes full advantage of the established strengths of the European Transit/Tourneo Connect product family, but is specially tailored to meet US customers’ expectations.
To prepare the Transit Connect for the unique needs of small-businesses in the United States, a Duratec 2.0-litre DOHC four-cylinder petrol engine delivering an estimated 138 SAE horsepower at 6,500 rpm will be mated to a four-speed automatic overdrive transmission. In addition, special features and options exclusive to the US market will be offered, such as the special Tool Link™ and Crew Chief™ tracking systems. The US version of the Transit Connect is produced alongside the European vehicles in the Ford Otosan assembly plant in Kocaeli/Turkey. This plant has already been producing the European Ford Transit/Tourneo Connect product family since its launch in late 2002.