Ford Motor Company is moving its electric vehicle (EV) program forward in the 1999 model year by adding a new battery option, introducing a fast-charging demonstration program and finding innovative uses for EVs.
Ford began offering a Ranger EV equipped with advanced nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries to customers in California for 1999. The NiMH Ranger EV offers greater range, increased payload and longer battery life.
The NiMH vehicle achieves real-world driving range of 65 to 80 miles on a single charge. Because the battery pack is lighter than the lead-acid version, customer payload capacity will increase from 700 to 1200 pounds. Prices for the NiMH Ranger EV vary with local incentives, but can be as low as $450 a month to lease in California.
The lead-acid Ranger EV is offered throughout the rest of North America for a lease price of $349 per month. That’s more than a $300 reduction from last year.
In addition, the lead acid Ranger EV will be the basis for a nationwide demonstration of fast-charging technology in 1999, bringing that technology closer to market. With fast charging, a Ranger EV can be 80 percent charged in 15-20 minutes. The demonstration program will begin this fall with fast charge-equipped Ranger EVs going to utilities in the U.S. and Canada.
“Our objective with this demonstration fleet is to assess both customer satisfaction and vehicle performance with fast charging,” said John Wallace, director of Ford’s Environmental Vehicles. “We also hope to drive the installation of EV infrastructure by introducing more customers and communities to fast charging.”
This year, Ford also began selling the lead acid Ranger EV in Canada. HydroQuebec is Ford’s first customer in Canada and plans to use the vehicles as part of a special citywide millennium effort called Montreal 2000.
The Ranger EV also found its way into an innovative employee lease program offered by the Southern Company in Georgia. The program allows employees to sublease an electric vehicle from the utility company at an attractive price. Approximately 400 vehicles will be leased to employees over four years. More than half of this year’s employees selected the Ranger EV.
According to the Southern Company, employees chose the Ranger EV because the pickup performs well and people want a vehicle they can use for weekend projects. Employees also liked the special lease price of $150 dollars a month.
Another innovative use for EVs is found in some of our nation’s zoos. The Ranger EV will be put to use in zoos in Atlanta, Detroit and Washington, D.C. The pickups will be used for maintenance or, in some cases, to take feed to the animals.
The Ranger EV is a quiet, zero-emission vehicle that was designed to be a practical, dependable light duty pickup balancing performance, reliability and energy efficiency. It has a 90 horsepower, high-efficiency three-phase AC electric motor with a single speed transaxle. It has a heavy duty frame and suspension, and a robust rear-wheel drive powertrain.
“Like all Ford trucks, the Ranger EV is ‘Built Ford Tough’,” says Wallace. “Our customers asked for an EV that drives with the safety, reliability and durability of a conventional vehicle and that’s what they’ll get with this truck.”
The Ranger EV uses a conductive charging system, which is inexpensive, safe and easy-to-use.
Ford is the only automaker to sell or lease an electric vehicles nationwide. In 1998, Ford sold about 370 Ranger electric vehicles through 50 dealers in 20 states.