Hybrid- and electric-car components maker Azure Dynamics Corp. will work with UK engineering company Lotus Lightweight Structures to assemble the electric drivetrain in Ford Transit Connect EVs bound for Europe, the Detroit-based supplier said.
Lotus Lightweight Structures, a division of Group Lotus plc, will be responsible for fitting Azure Dynamics' ForceDrive electric powertrain into vans shipped from Ford's Turkish plant. Assembly will take place at the Lotus' facility in Worcester, England, beginning in June.
"The European Union and individual governments and private businesses are all working to lead the adoption of electric transportation technology and have shown strong interest in the Transit Connect Electric van," Azure Dynamics CEO Scott Harrison said in a statement. "With Lotus Lightweight Structures, the project gets another globally renowned automotive company to ensure that final assembly is completed to the exacting standards of our customers."
Azure Dynamics announced last week that it was opening a European headquarters in London to help support marketing and sales efforts for the Transit EV.
The Norwegian postal service has placed the first European order for 20 Ford Transit Connect EVs fitted with Azure Dynamics' electric powertrain.
The Transit Connect EV is based on Ford's Transit Connect light commercial van and is the first product in Ford Motor Co.'s global electrified vehicle plan, which is set to grow in Europe to five models with either a gasoline-electric-hybrid or full-electric powertrain by 2013.
The zero-emissions van has a range of up to 130km (about 80 miles) on a full battery charge and has a top speed of 120kph (75 mph).
Automakers believe electric small vans have the biggest potential for EV sales because fleet-operated delivery vans normally are driven the same distances and often along the same routes when in service, making planning when to and where to recharge easier than for private customers.
"Not only is this an ideal vehicle for eco-conscious fleet operators, it is an important part of Ford's future," Derrick Kuzak, vice president of global product development at Ford, said in a statement Wednesday.