“The electrification of our fleet is one of our priorities.”  — Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.

Governor Granholm and Ford's Nancy Goia

Governor Granholm getting an up close look at Ford’s new electric Transit Connect van, and encouraging municipalities all over Michigan to invest in electric vehicles for their fleets.

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WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert asking the governor if the state was considering buying some of the vans.

“You bet we are,” said the governor. “We support all of our domestic team anyway. The electrification of our fleet is one of our priorities.”

Granholm saying she’s considering buying an electric vehicle or hybrid when she leaves office in January. She was driven to the Ford event in a hybrid Chevy Tahoe.

Stimulus money from the federal government and tax breaks from the state have lead to a number of electric vehicle and battery facilities being built in Michigan. The governor has cited studies that claim the industry will create 63 thousand jobs.

(From February’s Chicago Auto Show, Jeff Gilbert drives the electric Ford Transit Connect.)

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Granholm touring the Oak Park facilities of Azure Dynamics, where the electric Transit Connect was developed, and the first prototypes were build. Production models will be produced soon at an AM General plant in Livonia.

“In the next couple of months, working with AM General, the vehicles will start to be produced,” said Nancy Goia, Ford’s director of electrification.

Ford has been promoting the electric Transit Connect as a great vehicle for fleet use. Fleet vehicles, particularly those involved in deliveries, tend to be driven on predictable routes, and can be recharged at night.

2011 Ford Transit Connect Electric

Ford is also planning to launch an electric version of it’s Focus small car next year. For 2012, they are planning on adding a plug-in hybrid, along with two all new hybrid vehicles with a brand new hybrid system.

Goia says they’ve learned a lot about hybrids, reducing the cost thirty per cent and improving the fuel efficiency by twenty per cent between 2004 and 2009.

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“Our target is another thirty per cent of the cost down and additional fuel efficiency improvements over the Fusion we have today.”