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Ford thinks commercial fleets are perfect for EVs  (Source: The Detroit News)
Connect has 80 mile driving range

Pure EVs are still relatively rare in the U.S. compared to hybrids that are rather commonplace, but there are a few ready to hit the streets including the Nissan Leaf. Now Ford has announced that its electric Transit Connect vans are ready to ship.

The Transit Connect is a commercial delivery van that just happens to be plug-in EV. The Transit started shipping Tuesday of this week and Ford estimates that the Transit EV will make up about half of its total EV sales over the next decade.

The Transit EV is sized well for corporate fleets according to
The Detroit News. The electric Transit Connect will sell for $57,400 and has a range of 80 miles on a full charge. The vehicle will have a 10-year 120,000 mile warranty. That warranty length is typical for commercial vehicles. Ford plans to produce 600 to 700 Connect EV vans this year and then start producing the vehicles in Europe as well next year.

The van is targeting the small business and fleet operator that knows a defined route that will fit into the 80-mile range of the Connect. The DOT considers the average distance traveled each day by a commercial vehicle to be 41 miles.

Ford's Sherif Marakby, director for electrification and engineering, said, "You could view the commercial market as ideal. Drivers know the routes and the driving is predictable." 

Interestingly, Ford's major rival GM is not looking to the commercial market for its EVs. GM is looking to the consumer market with hybrids and its extended range electric vehicle known as the Volt. GM plans to launch pure EVs in China, but those vehicles may not come to America.

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what a joke...
By kattanna on 12/9/2010 11:17:03 AM , Rating: 1
The electric Transit Connect will sell for $57,400 and has a range of 80 miles on a full charge. The vehicle will have a 10-year 120,000 mile warranty

so they are selling the electric version for $57.400 ? while the gas version sells for $21,200 ?

thats $36,200 more, and at $3 per gallon thats 12,067 gallons of gas and at its rated MPG city of 21 miles, thats 253,400 miles

thats a lot of driving before they will "break even"

now im all for EV, but this one simply doesnt make sound $$ sense, and thats what a business is all about.

RE: what a joke...
By Pneumothorax on 12/9/2010 11:38:26 AM , Rating: 2
Who cares about "cents" when you have gubment subsidies?

RE: what a joke...
By atlmann10 on 12/9/2010 11:39:29 AM , Rating: 2
Yes and no really; as I would bet that is the price of a singular vehicle, where a fleet buyer is not going to buy a singular vehicle. So if a single unit is that much then an order of 10 would drop a certain %, and 25 would drop more etc. One vehicle nor the price of said single vehicle seem like any kind of fleet. This is also not priced in American dollar amounts most likely so drop a third off the price and say it is in euro's etc

RE: what a joke...
By nafhan on 12/9/2010 11:50:23 AM , Rating: 2
It'd definitely be out of warranty before they broke even on straight energy costs.
However, there's a lot of businesses that could almost consider this money towards advertising, as a lot of people have the (possibly mistaken) idea that electric vehicles are saving the environment. Also, this would eliminate trips to the gas station for smaller fleets that don't have their own refueling stations.
Greenwashing + convenience, sounds like a good combination to me.

RE: what a joke...
By DanNeely on 12/9/2010 12:06:41 PM , Rating: 2
The current very low production rate probably reflects the fact that most sales will be limited to companies buying them as fashion statement, or those that expect gas prices to go up significantly in the future. It'll take a $4/gallon or higher price before they have the potential to break even during the warranty period for most customers. I'm a bit surprised they're launching them here instead of in Europe with its much higher fuel costs.

Assuming 80 miles per day and 260 days of driving per year, it will take over 12 years to burn enough gas to match the price premium, and IIRC the cost of charging is roughly comparable to a $1/gallon fuel price. If the vehicle is used on the weekends as well it drops to almost 9 years. OTOH customers who spend a lot of time idling in traffic would get well under the rated MPG and could break even much sooner.

RE: what a joke...
By Taft12 on 12/9/2010 12:16:44 PM , Rating: 2
This vehicle is a fashion statement, but the OP doing the math using $3/gallon over a 10 year term is deeply flawed. I expect a gallon to be double that price or more by the end of that time period.

Honestly, providing a long warranty on a vehicle using brand new tech like this is going to drive quite a lot of sales IMHO regardless of the price.

RE: what a joke...
By kattanna on 12/9/2010 12:26:55 PM , Rating: 2
but the OP doing the math using $3/gallon over a 10 year term is deeply flawed. I expect a gallon to be double that price or more by the end of that time period.

i was trying to keep the math easy to understand and follow, which is why i also didnt include interest charges on the difference in price, which would be substantial.

This vehicle is a fashion statement

and to that, i whole heartily agree

RE: what a joke...
By Spuke on 12/9/2010 12:36:19 PM , Rating: 2
Honestly, providing a long warranty on a vehicle using brand new tech like this is going to drive quite a lot of sales IMHO regardless of the price.
Maybe some billion dollar business that has the money to burn could afford to buy these and not have the purchase make sense but smaller companies (which this would have the largest impact on) won't touch it with a 10 foot pole. It's about the bottom line with smaller (multi-million and below) businesses. They can't afford to blow cash/credit on bullsh!t. A better buy would be a diesel or even a hybrid Transit.

RE: what a joke...
By fic2 on 12/9/2010 1:03:25 PM , Rating: 2
You also need to factor in oil changes on a gas engine which you won't have with an electric.

With your 80 miles x 260 days = 20,800 so 3-5 oil changes per year. Unless you went synthetic which would be 2.
Say 4x year x $30 = $120/year.

RE: what a joke...
By Spuke on 12/9/2010 4:00:37 PM , Rating: 2
Ford Transit oil changes are every 10k miles.

RE: what a joke...
By CharonPDX on 12/9/2010 6:57:30 PM , Rating: 2
The only major flaw in your thinking is $3/gallon average.

So, first we have to figure the "useful life". We'll call it the warranted 120k miles or 10 years. At the given average 41 miles per day for a commercial vehicle (lets actually round down to 40, makes it easier,) and only 5 working days a week, that's 10,400 miles a year. So in 10 years, it will have hit 104k miles. Alright, we're going to call the useful life 10 years/104k miles.

So, how much will gas increase over 10 years? If the past is any indication, it will fluctuate wildly. But, we have to pick a number. 10 years ago, gas here averaged $1.50 a gallon. Now it's $3. However, it hit $3/gallon repeatedly over that time. It seems to hover at a price for awhile, then spike, drop back a little, then settle slightly higher; rinse, repeat. So let's say it will double to $6/gallon in 10 years, and average $4.50. At $4.50 a gallon, those 104k miles at 21 MPG will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $22,000.

Yup, still doesn't pan out.

However, commercial vehicles DO tend to be used a lot longer than their "useful life". So to break even, assuming an average of $5/gallon, you would have to drive 151,200 miles.
(If I had full Mathematica handy, I'd make up a formula that would do it with a starting price of $3/gallon, +5%/year, 10,400 miles per year, and have it calculate the time and miles of break-even...)

Ignore the Electric power
By btc909 on 12/10/2010 1:31:45 AM , Rating: 2
Have you seen these? It's DAM small. Tall yes, but i'm not fooled. Park this next to a Kia Soul & it's not much bigger. 57K, I don't see these selling in large numbers. Do the gas math & you have to drive a quarter of a million miles to break even. What will be left of this vehicle after 250K miles? For the size of this vehicle 23-24MPG AVG isn't very good on a unloaded vehicle.

RE: Ignore the Electric power
By jabber on 12/11/2010 7:36:41 AM , Rating: 2
Thats actually around the average size for a florist/electrician/decorator/gas fitter/plumber/mail van in the UK.

If designed with modern ergonomic standards/techniques they can be more efficient to use than those old US bread van things that UPS etc. use.

By goodsyntax on 12/9/2010 12:47:56 PM , Rating: 3
In Europe this may make more sense economically, considering their gas prices (which are absurdly high at around $10 per gallon), the congested roadways and relatively meager range requirements.

Considering the above, break-even for a British small business may be as little as 3-4 years, depending on price fluctuation and how much time would be spent idling (thus reducing gas efficiency on an MPG basis).

Honestly, I'm shocked that this is introduced in the US first. Our relatively low gas prices makes this vehicle nothing more than a rolling billboard for the Green movement. As others have mentioned, break even wouldn't happen for 10-12 years (unless there is a significant spike in gas prices).

swappable batteries
By Smilin on 12/9/2010 11:02:32 AM , Rating: 2
They need battery packs that can (with the right equipment) be quickly swapped out. You could keep a fleet going 24x7 while doing cheap and clean night time charging.

Limited customer base
By jimbojimbo on 12/9/2010 1:04:46 PM , Rating: 2
A new potential customer is located 35miles away. The company then says "I'm sorry, we can't take your money because our fleet can only drive 40 miles one way at optimal conditions so 30 miles would be our safe limit. Please take your money and go elsewhere."

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton
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