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Pair zeros in on new products.

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Ford and U.K.-based Smith Electric Vehicles are enhancing their relationship with the launch of a new product aimed at the light van sector along with plans to collaborate on future projects.

Smith has unveiled its zero-emissions Smith Ampere, which uses the Ford Transit Connect chassis and will be joint branded Ford and Smith.

It was designed and developed by Ford and The Tanfield Group, of which Smith Electric Vehicles is the trading division. The pair also announced they have reached "a broad agreement" to join forces on future zero-emissions vehicle projects and is "investigating further opportunities in sales, marketing and product development both in Europe and North America."

According to Smith, Ampere is a pioneering pure electric vehicle in its class, claiming it is the first "higher function electric light van" to offer a top speed of 70 mph, a range in excess of 100 miles on one battery charge and a payload of up to 1764 lb.

The Ampere is suited for lower-mileage, intra-city operations on congested roads and for duty cycles with many stops and starts or collections and drops, said Smith.

The Ampere is aimed at urban operations using large fleets of light vans in sectors such as postal and courier, utilities and telecommunications. It has a gross vehicle weight of 5159 lb. It is powered by a 50 kW electric motor and an iron phosphate lithium-ion battery pack. Although reluctant to give further details about the drivetrain, the company said it was developed specifically for the Ampere.

Ford has already announced that it will launch the Transit Connect in North America and recently unveiled a taxicab variant. Tanfield will concurrently launch the Ampere in North America as well.

"The launch of Ampere brings leading edge zero-emissions technology to the light van sector for the first time. Our relationship with Ford in North America will provide Smith with high-quality chassis that will be recognizable to, and readily accepted by, American customers," said Darren Kell, CEO of The Tanfleld Group.

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He added that the recent launch "will significantly increase the addressable market for our electric vehicles and are a major step toward our goal of offering a full global range of zero-emissions commercial vehicles, from light vans to medium-duty trucks."

Steve Kimber, head of commercial vehicles for Ford of Britain, said, "Demand for zero-emissions vehicles is growing exponentially as the battery and driveline technology improve their performance."

Ampere joins Edison and Newton in the Smith product range. Both Edison and Newton have a top speed of 50 mph and a range in excess of 100 miles on one battery charge. They are also powered by iron phosphate lithium-ion battery packs.

Newton is the world's largest pure electric truck, offered in GVWs from 16,534 to 26,455 lb. Based on the Ford Transit chassis, Edison is claimed to be the world's first pure electric van with a GVW of less than 7716 lb., which according to the manufacturer, is critical because it can be driven by anyone with a standard U.K. driver's license.

The company added that Ampere, Edison and Newton are all designed to replace diesel- or gasoline-powered commercial vehicles engaged in lower mileage, return-to-base applications in congested urban areas.

In a separate move, Smith has also launched a new concept vehicle for North America that will go into production later this year. It said it is working in collaboration with Ford on the future development of commercial electric vehicles for Europe and North America. Ford has agreed to supply Smith with a range of Ford F-Series commercial vehicle chassis for Smith's U.S.-specific vehicles.

The first of these vehicles is the Faraday mark II, a pure electric truck using the Ford F650 chassis cab, with a GVW of up to 28,660 lb.

Furthermore, Manganese Bronze, the manufacturer of the London black taxi, has signed a development agreement with Tanfield for a battery-powered zero-emissions urban taxi. The all-electric version of Manganese Bronze's TX4 black cab--to be branded the TX4E--will have a top speed of 50 mph and a range in excess of 100 miles on one battery charge. It is specifically designed for taxi operations in congested urban areas.
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Title Annotation:COMMERCIAL VEHICLES
Author:Cameron, Ian
Publication:Diesel Progress North American Edition
Date:Jun 1, 2008
Words:701
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