Ford Transit Connect Electric Brief Test

20 Фев 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Ford Transit Connect Electric Brief Test отключены
Ford Transit Connect Electric

Ford Transit Connect Electric Brief Test

VansA 2 Z had its first short drive in the Transit Connect Electric at a Ford press event held the day before the 2011 Commercial Vehicle Show. Sold through selected Ford dealerships, the electric drivetrain is designed, produced and installed by Azure Dynamics.

We visited its headquarters, just to the north of London, and spent a day with the Electric Connect driving around Stevenage and its suburbs to get a better idea of what it’s like to live with in its natural, urban environment.

Azure receives its Connects in the form of ‘mules’ from Ford’s factory in Turkey. Basically the entire van minus the powertrain, so it doesn’t have to start dismantling anything before the installation can begin at its production facility in Worcester. It also means that Azure doesn’t then have to sell-on the original diesel transmission.

Drivetrain

The tried and tested Force Drive system is used to power the Connect with all the hard work done by a three-phase induction motor sited, along with all the ancillary kit, under the bonnet. Using a fixed-ratio gearbox, it provides the front wheels with 158Nm of continuous torque, peaking at an impressive 235Nm.

Power for the motor comes from a 28kWh lithium-ion battery pack which fits neatly under the long-wheelbase Connect’s load floor. Re-charging from a standard 13A domestic supply takes around eight hours and the standard fuel-filler flap conceals the socket. A very neat bit of integration.

Load Area

Thanks to the positioning of the battery pack the standard van’s 3.8m3 of load space is retained and gross payload is a very reasonable 575kg. The diesel-powered equivalent offers 900kg.

Access to the 1,986mm long and 1,490mm wide load area is excellent thanks to twin symmetrical rear doors and two sliding side doors. Load height is 1,364mm and the width narrows to 1,226mm between the wheel boxes.

In-Cab Comfort

Azure has not skimped on the specification of its zero-emission Transit Connect. Based on Ford’s Trend package it comes with all the powered goodies drivers expect these days. These include remote central locking, electric windows and door mirror adjustment, radio/CD player with an aux-in socket and steering column remote controls, and there’s even air conditioning.

Behind the Wheel


Electric vehicle virgins may have the impression that EVs don’t have any performance to speak of; they could not be further from the truth, at least in the case of this zero emission Connect. Floor the throttle and it rockets off the line and overtaking, even on dual carriageways and motorways, causes no problems.

There is a downside to using all the available performance, however. The range will be reduced dramatically. Drive the Connect sensibly using a light right foot, don’t exceed about 40mph, which is not a problem in most cities, and a range of 60 – 80 miles should be achievable.

Ford Transit Connect Electric

Naturally this is load dependent; the heavier the weight in the back, the shorter the range.

Out on the road the batteries are topped up by a kinetic energy recovery system which operates during braking and lift-off deceleration. There are three settings — ‘D’, ‘2’ and ‘1‘ — selected using the gearstick, which determine the strength of recuperation, ‘1’ being the strongest. Around town we found the ‘1’ position the most effective as it supplied so much retardation that we hardly had to use the brakes at all with a bit of forward planning.

Like when approaching a red traffic light, for example.

Apart from the whisper quiet powertrain it’s just like driving any other Transit Connect. Supportive seats, clear and well laid-out instrumentation and controls and bags of storage space. It rides and handles well with the weight of the battery pack settling the rear-end down nicely, even with no load on board.

Barring the reduced payload the load area retains all the practicality of the diesel-powered models. Excellent access thanks to the standard-fit twin sliding side doors combined with the full-height side-hinged rear doors and six sturdy load-tie rings are provided on the floor. There is also very little tumblehome so that boxes can be stacked efficiently utilising as much of the load area as possible.

As far as peace of mind is concerned Connect Electric is covered by Ford’s standard base Transit Connect warranty (three years/100,000 miles and 12 years for corrosion) for all the non-powertrain components. On top of this it comes with five years/60,000 miles cover for the Azure drivetrain and modified components.

Transit Connect Electric should not be thought of as a conversion. The Azure dynamics electric drivetrain is so well integrated that it could have been fitted on the production line. It’s a well conceived zero emission light van which has practicality by the spadeful.

The only downside is the initial cost of going green; £40,000 is a big investment. Thanks to very low running and fuel costs, however, Azure reckons it should pay for itself in about three to four years.

Interview with Gary Whittam, sales marketing director for Azure Dynamics Europe…

Ford Transit Connect Electric
Ford Transit Connect Electric
Ford Transit Connect Electric
Ford Transit Connect Electric
Ford Transit Connect Electric
Ford Transit Connect Electric
Ford Transit Connect Electric
Ford Transit Connect Electric
Ford Transit Connect Electric

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