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Ford: Electric van in 2010

Battery-powered Transit Connect van will be targeted at small business owners.

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By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNNMoney.com senior writer

2010 Ford Transit Connect

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New York (CNNMoney.com) -- Ford Motor Co. will introduce its first all-electric vehicle in 2010, but it will be intended for business owners - not families. The electric Transit Connect, a small van, will be offered in "select" U.S. Ford dealerships.

"The new Transit Connect light commercial vehicle with battery electric power represents the next logical step in our pursuit of even greater fuel economy and sustainability," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president for global product development in a company announcement.

The van will able to to travel about 100 miles on a fully charged battery, according to Ford.

The introduction is part of a longer term electric-vehicle strategy that Ford announced at the Detroit Auto Show in January.

The plan also calls for a battery-powered small car in 2011 and "advanced hybrid" and plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2012.

Non-electric Transit Connect vans will go on sale in the U.S. later this year as 2010 model year vehicles. Ford (F, Fortune 500) is marketing the van, which is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, as a more fuel-efficient and space-efficient alternative to larger work vehicles, such as ford's own E-series vans.

The Transit Connect has been sold in Europe since 2003, but this will be the first time the van is available in the U.S. Ford made some cosmetic changes to the van for its American introduction.

To create the electric Transit Connect, Ford is working with British firm Smith Electric Vehicles, which modifies existing commercial vehicles to use electric power. Smith already offers its customers electric versions of the Transit Connect.

Several other carmakers will also be introducing plug-in vehicles next year. General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) plans to sell its "range extended" electric car, the Chevrolet Volt, which will run on batteries but also have a small gasoline engine to generate electricity for longer range. Chrysler plans to sell a similar vehicle as well.

Toyota (TM) has also announced plans for a test fleet of plug-in Prius hybrids later this year, and Nissan (NSANY) plans to introduce an electric-only "city car" in 2010. To top of page

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