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>Electric vehicles have a long history in the U.S. In 1897, electric cars found one of their first commercial uses as taxicabs in New York City. In the city, range was less of a disadvantage and they were considered cleaner, quieter, and easier to use than internal combustion vehicles. However, the 1920’s saw the advancement of the internal combustion vehicles, much of it driven by the Ford Motor Company and the electric car became obsolete. Now a century later New York may see the return of the fully electric taxi cab. Azure Dynamics Corporation is partnering with Ford Motor Company (ironically enough) to produce the Transit Connect Electric, an all electric version of Ford’s 2010 Transit Connect commercial delivery van. With fleet availability predicted for late 2010, and a taxi cab version also offered, New York may see the return of its electric cabs after a century of absence. Ford Motors plans to provide Azure Dynamics with Transit ‘gliders’ (vehicles without a fuel system or drive drain) in which Azure is to install its Force Drive battery system drivetrain. A lithium-ion battery produced by Johnson controls powers the Transit, and with a 240 volt connection recharges in 6 to 8 hours. The Transit has a range of up to 80 miles on a single charge with a maximum speed of 75 mph. Another alternative is conversion to natural gas or propane in the the taxi version of the Transit. Ford includes an engine prep kit for this purpose, and if Ford’s guidelines are followed the conversion doesn’t even void the engine warranty. Hopefully this signals the rise of alternate energy vehicles in the commercial sector, and maybe in the future the city streets will be full of blissfully quiet vans and trucks, and absent the roar of gas and diesel engines.