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Ford Transit Connect Electric Draws Gubernatorial Test Drive

September 28, 2010

OAK PARK, MI - Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm drove one of the first Ford Transit Connect Electric small commercial vans in Oak Park on Sept. 22, citing collaboration among four companies as the key to delivering the zero-emissions vehicle to market.

Granholm also cited government funding as a significant catalyst to creating new green jobs in Michigan.

The companies -- Azure Dynamics, Ford Motor Co., Johnson Controls and AM General -- demonstrated their new product, the Ford Transit Connect Electric, at Azure's Oak Park headquarters.

"We've been working to grow clean energy manufacturing in Michigan to diversify the state's economy and create jobs," Granholm said. "The Transit Connect Electric is a prime example of the public and private sectors collaborating to invest in clean energy technologies that lead to new jobs for Michigan workers."

The government provided funding through the federal Department of Energy and the Michigan Economic Development Council to support development and production of the new battery electric vehicle. Program partners have all added significant jobs to their employee base for development and production of the vehicle, and Johnson Controls-Saft has opened a $220 million lithium-ion battery plant in Holland, Mich., to produce the batteries.

To create the Transit Connect Electric, Ford ships a vehicle body or "glider" to AM General's assembly facility in Livonia, Mich. Azure Dynamics then integrates its ForceDrive electric drivetrain into the Ford Transit Connect body. The ForceDrive electric powertrain uses an advanced lithium-ion battery built in Holland by Johnson Controls-Saft. Completed vehicles will be shipped directly to customers throughout North America.

"Electrified vehicles are a key part of our plan to offer a portfolio of green vehicles for retail and fleet customers, and we are building a center of excellence here in Michigan to develop and produce those vehicles," said Nancy Gioia, Ford director of global electrification. "The collaboration we share with our suppliers on the Transit Connect Electric is a critical component in our delivery of the first of five new electrified vehicles we are bringing to market within the next two years, including hybrids, pure battery electrics and plug-in hybrids."

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