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USA: First Drive: 2012 Ford Transit Connect Electric

By Mike Hanley, Photography by Ian Merritt

Much of the attention surrounding electric vehicles has been focused on cars like the all-electric Nissan Leaf and range-extended Chevrolet Volt. Ford, meanwhile, has developed a model for those who need more hauling capability by equipping its Transit Connect van with an all-electric drivetrain through a partnership with Azure Dynamics. The Ford Transit Connect Electric is available to both fleet buyers and regular consumers.

The Transit Connect Electric is just as refined as the gas-only model and offers improved acceleration, but it comes with a steep starting price of $57,400, about $35,000 more than the base price of the regular van.

One of the most obvious impressions of the Transit Connect
Brake-pedal feel in alternative-fuel vehicles often isn’t that great, but it’s remarkably natural and linear in the Transit Connect Electric. Frankly, it’s better than what many conventional gas-engine models offer.

The Transit Connect Electric rides well, too. Like the gas-powered version, it uses a unibody platform that delivers a much more carlike driving experience than traditional domestic full-size vans like the Chevrolet Express. The Transit Connect Electric we drove in Chicago at a Ford event had some cargo in back, and the suspension yielded a comfortable yet composed ride on South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago’s highway along the lakefront. The regular Transit Connect is rated to carry 1,600 pounds, which seems ambitious considering the four-cylinder’s power, but the electric version is only rated to carry 1,045 pounds.
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