In this role, AM General, a long-established contract vehicle manufacturer and services provider, will be responsible for final assembly of the Transit Connect Electric for the North American market from its Engineering and Product Development Center in Livonia, Michigan.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) provided Azure Dynamics with incentive funding to encourage the selection of a Michigan based partner. Further MEDC High Technology Mega Tax credits may be available based on specific job creation criteria.
"Our hierarchy for facility selection criteria began by identifying a partner with the proven technical expertise and high quality standards that both Azure and Ford customers expect," said Curt Huston, Azure Dynamics Chief Operating Officer. "Secondly, we wanted a facility in Southeast Michigan that capitalized on the area’s highly skilled automotive workforce and available manufacturing capacity. AM General fit the bill and we are delighted to add their capabilities and know-how to this revolutionary vehicle program."
AM General will receive Transit Connect "gliders" (powerless vehicles without a conventional powertrain or exhaust system) from the Ford manufacturing location in Turkey, and Force Drive(TM) electric components from Azure and supplier facilities in North America. The current production plan includes an initial quantity of electric vehicles to be built in late 2010 with full production scheduled to begin in April 2011.
"AM General is excited to be part of this new ‘green’ solution for the commercial truck market by leveraging our extensive vehicle manufacturing capabilities and our experience in alternative powertrain integration," said Rick Smith, President AM General Commercial Business. "We are also pleased to be part of a new production program that will contribute to the industry’s important advances in alternative energy vehicles."
Transit Connect Electric is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack and is among the first fully electric vehicles available to the commercial market. Battery power is provided to the drive motor through the electric powertrain’s motor controller. Throttle input from the driver converts DC power supplied by the battery into three precisely timed signals used to drive the motor. The Transit Connect Electric’s appearance will be identical to the standard Transit Connect vehicle other than inclusion of Azure’s Force Drive(TM) badge on the rear of the vehicle and information provided on the instrument cluster.
With a unique combination of car-like driving dynamics, cargo capacity, accessibility and low operation costs, Transit Connect Electric is an ideal choice for light-duty commercial vehicle users who travel predictable, short-range routes with frequent stop-and-go driving in urban and suburban environments. Transit Connect Electric converts AC power to DC power to charge the battery in six to eight hours at 240V and has a range of up to 80 miles on a single charge.
With zero tail pipe emissions, Transit Connect Electric also will appeal to customers seeking sustainable mobility solutions and to municipalities seeking to reduce vehicle emissions to the environment.
Azure Dynamics Corporation (TSX: AZD)(OTC: AZDDF) is a world leader in the development and production of hybrid electric and electric components and powertrain systems for commercial vehicles. Azure is strategically targeting the commercial delivery vehicle and shuttle bus markets and is currently working internationally with various partners and customers. The Company is committed to providing customers and partners with innovative, cost-efficient, and environmentally-friendly energy management solutions.
AM General is a full service, contract vehicle manufacturer that designs, builds and supports the world’s leading all-purpose vehicles for military, commercial and consumer customers. As manufacturer of the famous HMMWV (HUMVEE(R)) and HUMMER(R) H1 and H2 vehicles, AM General has more than five decades of experience in meeting the changing needs of the defense and automotive industries through 2,500 employees at major facilities in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio plus a strong supplier base that stretches across 43 states.