Oak Park, Michigan – A U.S. power company will be the first to receive the new electric Ford Transit Connect commercial van. Electricity and natural gas company Xcel Energy and a coalition of its customers will receive a total of 13 vans, with the first delivered in late 2010 and the remainder in 2011.

The Ford Transit Connect Electric is a collaborative effort between Ford and hybrid and electric powertrain company Azure Dynamics, which selected Xcel Energy for its “lead customer” program. The first van is expected to be delivered to Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Xcel will add two of the 13 vans to its corporate fleet, and will provide US$20,000 grants to support the purchase of eleven additional vans for its project partners. The partners will invest the remaining cost to take delivery of each van.

“We are excited to be part of this innovative initiative that will help encourage the market for electric vehicles and supports our company’s environmental leadership strategy,” said Dick Kelly, chairman and CEO of Xcel Energy. “The Ford Transit Connect Electric is a significant technological achievement in electric transportation, and we want our company and key partners to be among the first to experience this new technology and help promote it within the communities we serve.”

Other areas expected to deploy the electric vans include Minneapolis and Hennepin County in Minnesota, and Arvada and Denver in Colorado. All vehicles will be delivered by the end of 2011. Ford said that the Transit Connect Electric is the first of five electrified vehicles it will launch over the next three years.

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