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Azure Dynamics and Ford Motor Co. plan to launch a fully electric version of Ford's hugely successful Transit Connect commercial van. (Azure Dynamics)
Azure Dynamics and Ford Motor Co. plan to launch a fully electric version of Ford's hugely successful Transit Connect commercial van. (Azure Dynamics)

The Green Highway

Ford brings its 'eh' game to EVs Add to ...

Ford has finally announced its first two all-electric vehicles and both are going to be loaded with Canadian technology.

First up will be an electric version of the Transit Connect utility van, which will be developed by Vancouver's Azure Dynamics. Next will be a lithium battery version of the next-generation Focus, which is being developed by Magna.

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The Ford Magna project was announced last year and now it seems that Ford has decided to commercialize the result, although no launch date has been specified. Electrifying the Transit Connect is right up Azure's alley - it has been removing gas engines and replacing them with electric drivetrains for years, mostly in delivery vans. Unfortunately for Canada, Azure recently moved much development work to Michigan to take advantage of the "green" subsidies and loans rolled out by the Obama administration in the United States.

It's interesting that Ford has decided to rely on suppliers for its first two all-electrics rather than doing all the development internally. When Alan Mulally, now Ford CEO, was running Boeing Commercial Aircraft he took the same outsourcing route in the development of the 787 Dreamliner - the aircraft that is now three years late. I trust the Canadian companies won't let him down.

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Four-banger in a limo

The trend toward small engines in big cars moved ahead with Daimler AG's announcement that its Mercedes-Benz flagship, the big S-Class sedan, will soon be sold with a four-cylinder engine.

The Merc S has been the choice of German bankers, industrialists and even Chancellors since the 1970s and is often observed at warp speed on Autobahns.

The new one will have a little a 2.2-litre diesel engine with 204 horsepower, lots of torque and a promised top speed of 240 km/h.

The S 250 CDI has fuel consumption of 5.7 litres/100 km and carbon-dioxide emissions of 149 grams per km, which would be the best numbers in the German luxury segment so far. "Green luxury is feasible," says the company.

Audi and BMW aren't moving to four-cylinder engines in their big boats at the moment; they are currently showing six-cylinder engines instead of eights along with electric motor boost.

New engine from Chrysler

Last week, I drove a couple of Chrysler products with the new Pentastar V-6, which is becoming the workhorse engine across numerous Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep lines. The engine is compact and lightweight, providing considerably more horsepower while burning less fuel than its predecessors.

In the past, Chrysler relied on companies like Mitsubishi to supply engines or has partnered with Hyundai and Daimler. The Pentastar, however, was developed by Chrysler in-house and the company says the engine has been designed "to meet all known future worldwide emission standards."

I can't comment on the long-term reliability of the engine although Chrysler says it has had 14 million "equivalent" miles of testing. I didn't drive it that far, but I can tell you the engine is incredibly quiet and smooth.

Look out, everyone - Chrysler isn't dead yet.

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