Ford Motor Company has signed an agreement with Azure Dynamics, a developer of hybrid electric and electric drive technology for commercial vehicles, to deliver a pure battery electric version of the Ford Transit Connect van to customers in Europe beginning in late summer 2011.

Azure Dynamics will integrate its proprietary Force Drive battery electric drive train into the Transit Connect Electric vehicles to support the sale of the zero-emission battery-electric models in selected markets.

As part of Ford’s global electrification strategy, the Transit Connect Electric is the first of five electrified vehicles (battery-electric, hybrid-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles) under development and will be launched in Europe by 2013.

First launched in 2002, the Ford Transit Connect is designed, engineered and constructed to meet the needs of small business operators who want the same levels of durability, functionality and strength that are of the larger Ford Transit range, according to the company.

John Fleming, chairman and CEO of Ford Europe, said: “Adding a practical, full battery-electric, zero-emission alternative to the range further demonstrates the enormous flexibility of this vehicle and gives customers the option of being among the first to adopt this environmentally friendly technology.”

Scott Harrison, CEO of Azure Dynamics, said: “We’re excited about the extension of the Transit Connect Electric program to Europe and understand that putting electric vehicles on the world’s roads in significant quantities will be a long term proposition.”

Ford claimed that the Transit Connect Electric will offer European fleet owners the opportunity to eliminate the use of diesel or petrol fuel in their small vans and help to lower operating costs.

According to the company, the vehicle will have a targeted range of up to 130km or 80 miles on a full charge and zero exhaust emissions, and will be rechargeable using standard European 220/240-volt outlets within six to eight hours.

Azure Dynamics will sell the completed Transit Connect Electric through a new network of dealerships, while Ford will provide repair works for the vehicles, which will be offered in both right- and left-hand drive configurations.