Special Coverage

Chicago Auto Show

CHICAGO – Ford Motor Co. is confident there is sufficient demand for its upcoming Transit Connect electric utility van unveiled at the auto show here, despite an expected price in the $60,000 range.

“There are already (U.S.) government incentives announced for electrified vehicles, and those range from plug-ins to fully electric products,” Jim Farley, group vice president-global marketing, tells Ward’s at the Chicago auto show here.

The federal incentives range from about $5,000 to $10,000 per unit, depending on battery size, he says.

The Transit Connect EV, scheduled to launch later this year, will be powered by a 28-kW/h lithium-ion battery pack, which should qualify it for a $7,500 rebate, Farley says. “That’s what the (Chevrolet) Volt is qualified for and the (Nissan) Leaf.”

Farley declines to reveal the exact cost of the Transit Connect but admits the nascent technology is not cheap. Preliminary estimates indicate advanced Li-ion batteries cost about $1,000 per kW/h, meaning the Transit Connect’s power pack will add an additional $28,000 to the cost of the vehicle.

“The physical financials behind a product like that are pretty specific” Farley says. “Everyone knows how much a battery costs, how much an electric motor costs, and the scale is the scale. It’s thousands, not tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands (of units).”

Transit Connect EVs will be sourced sans powertrain from Ford’s Otosan plant in Turkey. The electric drivetrain will be installed by specialty upfitter Azure Dynamics Inc. at an undisclosed location in Michigan.

Farley does not provide volume projections for the Transit Connect EV but notes there is significant interest in the vehicle from a variety of fleet operators.

“We’re obviously setting up production for thousands of units, not tens of thousands, and we have to make assumptions around the capacity,” he says.

“A lot of fleet customers really would prefer this type of solution, so they can market their company as a zero-emissions (operation).”