White Van Man goes electric with the Ford Transit Connect EV

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Ford Transit Connect Electric

White Van Man goes electric with the Ford Transit Connect EV


Ford reckons EVs are perfect for some fleets, where daily routes are and distances are well known.

By Michael Boxwell on April 11, 2011 10:56 PM

According to many industry experts, the first wave of electric vehicle early adopters may be companies looking to ‘green up’ their images, providing fleets of EVs to the infamous white van man.

Ford, for one, certainly hopes so and today announced European availability for a pure electric version of its popular Transit Connect.

“Many fleets have a number of drivers who are either entirely city bound or have fixed routes every day where the driver knows exactly how far he is going to drive,” explains Ford’s Electric Vehicle expert, Dan Jones. “An electric delivery van works perfectly in this role.”

The Transit Connect EV first made its appearance in the United States last year, where it is available in both van and taxi versions. The European version, at least for now, is a pure van, but a five seat ‘people carrier’ version is under consideration and was shown at today’s vehicle launch.

The driving experience

Behind the wheel, the Transit Connect EV feels much like any other Transit. The interior is functional with clearly laid out analogue gauges, although state of charge and estimated remaining range mark out the plug-in version. An automatic gear lever makes it easy to select drive and with a touch of the accelerator, the van pulls away silently.

Long gone are the days when driving a van was a second rate experience. The Transit Connect EV provides a smart interior, comfortable and supportive seats, excellent visibility and a car-like driving position. It is a remarkably refined experience.

Ford Transit Connect Electric

Sound-proofing is not quite up to car standards however, and the motor emits a noticeable whistle when driving above 30mph.

Despite this, white van man is likely to be delighted by the performance and driveability of this van. It is easy to use and pulls away strongly. It is faster on acceleration than the standard diesel version, accelerating rapidly to an indicated 75mph on a dual carriageway. Range around town is a claimed 80 miles, although aggressive driving will affect this.

Not that we’d imply that’s a character trait of white van man.

Sales forecasts

Initially, Ford is expecting to sell “several hundred” Transit Connect EVs each year, at a cost of £39,995 each. That seems expensive but Ford says it has presold all production units until Q4 this year, and they look set to continue to in that vein. Why?

Because a Transit Connect driver averaging 50-60 miles a day could easily be burning £250-300 a month of diesel, so much of the additional cost of leasing the Connect EV over five years would be offset by the lower running costs.

Early customers include the Norwegian Post Office and Ford says it will be announcing a number of other high profile customers in the next few months.

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

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