Oak Park-based Azure Dynamics Corp. and Ford Motor Co. announced Thursday that New York Power Authority, the nation’s largest state public power organization, has been added to the LEAD customer program for the Ford Transit Connect Electric van. 

As a LEAD customer, the Power Authority will receive one of the exclusive supply of Transit Connect Electrics in late 2010 and make possible the purchase of at least nine additional vans in 2011 by some of its governmental customers in Westchester County and New York City.  

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Under its Electric Transportation Program, NYPA provides funding and arranges for grants from other parties in support of the purchase of clean electric-drive vehicles by interested municipalities and governmental agencies in New York State. The Transit Connect Electric was among several electric-drive vehicles showcased by NYPA on Tuesday for its downstate governmental customers at a workshop and “ride-and-drive” event at the Authority’s office building in White Plains, N.Y.

“The Power Authority is a leader in helping to introduce electric and hybrid-electric vehicles in the New York Metropolitan Area and other parts of the state,” said NYPA President and CEO Richard M. Kessel. “These electric-drive vehicles are essential to improving energy efficiency, energy security and air quality, and for growing jobs for the economy.  For all of these reasons, we’re teaming with automobile manufacturers, local and state governments and others to promote wider use of these vehicles, beginning with government vehicle fleets.  The electrified vehicles that we spotlighted on Tuesday are the latest examples of our efforts, which have resulted in our helping to put over 1,200 electric-drive vehicles on the road since 1995 that have driven more than 11 million miles.”

Added Azure CEO Scott Harrison: “As an energy producer, NYPA has shown a willingness to embrace new electric propulsion technologies for its fleet as well as supporting the use by its government customers of vehicles using these technologies. As electric mobility takes center stage and volumes increase, collaboration between vehicle manufacturers and energy producers is necessary.  This relationship signals that these important steps are being taken.”

To create the Transit Connect Electric, Azure integrates its proven Force Drive electric powertrain into the award-winning Ford Transit Connect.  Using an advanced lithium-ion battery from Johnson Controls-Saft, the Transit Connect Electric can achieve a range of up to 80 miles on a single charge and has a top speed of 75 mph. The battery is rechargeable using either a 240-volt or standard 120-volt outlet.  Commercial vans generally return to a central location at the end of each driving cycle making for easy overnight recharging.

A unique combination of car-like driving dynamics, cargo capacity, maneuverability, accessibility and low operating costs are characteristics that make the Ford Transit Connect the ideal choice for electrification.  Commercial vehicle fleets are increasingly seen as the logical starting point for electric vehicles due to typical drive cycles that often include travel on predictable, short-range, routes with frequent stop and go driving in tight urban or suburban environments. Commercial vehicles generally return to a central location at the end of a drive cycle making for convenient recharging over night.

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Ford continues to aggressively roll out its global electrification strategy which leverages global vehicle platforms like Transit Connect, to offer a robust product line-up in a customer-driven, affordable way.

“As part of Ford’s overall electrification strategy, we wanted to help fleet owners reduce their environmental impact without sacrificing the space and convenience needed from a small commercial van,” said Nancy Gioia, director of global electrification at Ford. “Through our partnership with Azure Dynamics, the Ford Transit Connect Electric will help   organizations like NYPA reduce their fleet’s use of gasoline and lower their overall emissions.”

The LEAD customer program makes the exclusive supply of 2010 Ford Transit Connect Electric vans available to customers that have demonstrated a commitment to add environmentally responsible vehicles to their fleets.  Each LEAD customer agrees to a minimum order of 10 Ford Transit Connect Electrics, with one vehicle being delivered in late 2010 and the remainder to be delivered in 2011. 

In addition to becoming a LEAD customer for the Transit Connect Electric, NYPA is working with Ford to help fleet customers learn more about the benefits of electric vehicles and the electrified-vehicle options available to them. The Power Authority is a national leader in promoting energy efficiency and the development of clean energy technologies and electric vehicles. Last year, it financed approximately $145 million in energy efficiency and clean energy improvements for public facilities throughout  New York State.    

More at www.azuredynamics.com or www.nypa.gov.

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