o Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm cites collaboration as key to production of the Ford Transit Connect Electric and creation of new green jobs in the state
o Johnson Controls joins Transit Connect Electric Lead customer program with 20-unit order; begins lithium-ion battery pack shipments to Azure from its new Michigan facility
o Collaboration further establishes Michigan as a center for electric vehicle development
o Transit Connect Electric comes to market in 2010 - aimed primarily at fleet customers
OAK PARK, MI - Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm drove one of the first Ford Transit Connect Electric small commercial vans in Oak Park, MI, today, citing collaboration between 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 Company, 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. As a result, 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 li-ion battery plant in Holland, MI 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, MI. Azure Dynamics then integrates its ForceDrive(TM) electric drivetrain into the Ford Transit Connect body. The ForceDrive(TM) electric powertrain utilizes 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."
The Ford Transit Connect Electric can achieve a range of up to 80 miles on a single charge and has a top speed of 75 mph. The battery is rechargeable using either a 240-volt or standard 120-volt outlet. Commercial vans are considered excellent candidates for electrification because they generally drive predictable short-range routes and return to a central location at the end of the drive cycle for convenient overnight recharging. The Ford Transit Connect Electric would totally eliminate gas costs.
"We are thrilled to be part of this collaboration," said Azure Dynamics CEO Scott Harrison. "Our partners in this collaboration are all proven, dependable companies who can help us ensure on-time deliveries of proven, dependable products that will help our mutual customers achieve their environmental goals. Today, we are also pleased to announce that one of our partners has also become one of our customers, demonstrating their confidence in this product."
In addition to Granholm's visit, Johnson Controls announced it has become a new lead customer for Azure Dynamics, ordering 20 Transit Connect Electric vans. The lead program was developed by Azure to deliver an exclusive supply of 2010 Transit Connect Electric vehicles to the first 10 customers in the fourth quarter of this year.
Johnson Controls' new battery plant in Holland is now making initial lithium-ion battery pack shipments to Azure. The plant is among the first fully dedicated li-ion automotive battery facilities in the world and was made possible in part by a $299 million matching grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act along with $168.5 million in incentives from the state of Michigan.
"The stimulus grant and the state of Michigan incentives substantially changed our manufacturing footprint expansion," said Mary Ann Wright, vice president for Technology and Innovation at Johnson Controls. "Without these incentives, we would not have come to the United States. As a result, we are here today - less than 10 months since receiving the grant - shipping batteries from our manufacturing line in Holland, MI that are making their way into real vehicles for real customers."
The Transit Connect Electric will be produced by AM General at a facility in Livonia.
"It is no accident that AM General's Engineering and Product Development Center is located in Livonia. Our more than 500 highly skilled workers provide design and engineering expertise for some of the most advanced military and commercial specialty vehicles in the world," said Rick Smith, president of AM General Commercial Business. "We benefit tremendously from the abundant experience base, significant infrastructure and higher education resources that Michigan provides."
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 159,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln and Mercury, production of which has been announced by the company to be ending in the fourth quarter of 2010. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford's products, please visit www.ford.com.
About Azure Dynamics Corporation:
Azure Dynamics Corporation (TSX: AZD) 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. For more information please visit www.azuredynamics.com.
About Johnson Controls:
Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI) is the global leader that brings ingenuity to the places where people live, work and travel. By integrating technologies, products and services, we create smart environments that redefine the relationships between people and their surroundings. Our team of 140,000 employees creates a more comfortable, safe and sustainable world through our products and services for more than 200 million vehicles, 12 million homes and one million commercial buildings. Our commitment to sustainability drives our environmental stewardship, good corporate citizenship in our workplaces and communities, and the products and services we provide to customers. For additional information, please visit www.johnsoncontrols.com.
About AM General:
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®) and HUMMER® 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. More information can be found at www.amgeneral.com
SOURCE Azure Dynamics Corporation
Azure Dynamics, Pat Liebler, 313.832.4324, Pat@lieblergroup.com;
Johnson Controls, Rebecca Fitzgerald, 414.418.4450, Rebecca.firstname.lastname@example.org
AM General, Celeste Ross, 574.284.2930, Celeste.email@example.com
Ford Motor Company, Jennifer Moore, 313.248.2335, Jmoor186@ford.com
Web Site: www.livecampusview.com