Ford Transit Connect Electric Power To The People! Autoholics

11 Апр 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Ford Transit Connect Electric Power To The People! Autoholics отключены

Ford Transit Connect Electric

I’ve been … to drive a Transit Connect for about three years now, so when Ford invited Rob and I to come down to Qwest Field in Seattle to test drive the new electrified version of their cute-as-a-button delivery runabout, I was just about beside myself. As we speak, Ford is rolling out the battery-powered vans primarily for use as short-route commercial vehicles—you know, the kind of stop-and-go quick runs that the majority of urban delivery vehicles tend to make. It’s a ballsy move for Ford, especially in light of how the econony’s been lately.

But it’s one whose time had come. Read more.

Ford teamed up with Azure Dynamics to produce the electric powertrain for the Transit Connect, and the results seem pretty solid. It’ll go up to 80 miles on a full charge, and a full charge takes 6-12 hours. It’s intended primarily for businesses that have predictable daily routes and a central location for recharging, and a the sticker price is a little daunting: $58,000, meaning that, all else being equal, you’ll take four year to recover the cost in fuel savings vis a vis the gas-powered version.

Maybe a tough sell on struggling business owners looking ahead into uncertain futures, but I’ve got my fingers crossed for Ford that this one catches on.

Why? Because the concept is perfect. A little van with a ton of cargo space that’s maneuverable, operator-friendly, easy to park, and poised to take avantage of a rapidly emerging vehicle-electrification infrastructure.

And would you believe it’s a blast to drive? Of course it’s got the typical EV instantaneous torque, and although it’s calibrated not to snap or spin the wheels when you punch the pedal (you don’t want those delivery drivers having too much fun), it launches hard at gets up to speed in a hurry. The handling is great, with an ultra-tight turning radius (U-turns and 3-pointers on narrow streets were a breeze) none of the tippy feel of a tall van.

This is largely due to the fact that the battery pack sits low between the frame rails, and actually gives the electric Transit a more solidly planted feel than the gas version.

Ford Transit Connect Electric

Despite the utilitarian bent of the Transit Connect, it rides nice over even warzone-like SoDo road surfaces (trashed by commercial trucks and ignored by repaving crews), and frankly, had none of the clatter-trap feel that I would’ve expected from an economical commercial delivery van. In fact, with the slightly sound-damping cloth interior (as opposed to the cheap-vinyl-everything featured on the base model), the Transit definitely feels passenger-grade. Indeed, Ford has plans to introduce a version with rear seating, making it a true family mini van.

It’s about time!

So with both delivery-oriented business and families in their sights, is there room for the enthusiast market? I’d say definitely: I can absolutely see using the Transit Connect as a shop truck and parts hauler, great for junkyard runs. With all the height in the back, you could easily even crane an engine into it, and I can’t think of a body panel (short of an entire pickup bed maybe) that couldn’t be loaded into it.

The range of the electric version would put some obvious limitations on regional hauling (a junkyard road trip to Chilliwack Pick A Part or All-American Classics in Vancouver WA for example), and I don’t know whether or how well the Transit Connect can tow with either drivetrain. But I think that in any iteration, it’d make a great little hobbyist vehicle and utility runabout. How about you, do you think you could make use of a small van for hauling duty?

And would you even consider an 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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