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Five new all-electric vehicles join fleets across the region

Nov. 2, 2011 (MINNEAPOLIS) – Today, five members of the Drive Electric Minnesota partnership announced a rollout of five energy-efficient, environmentally friendly, all-electric fleet vehicles. The City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, the Metropolitan Airports Commission, the State of Minnesota and Xcel Energy recently received all-electric Ford Transit Connect commercial vans to add to their fleets. Drive Electric Minnesota members say electric vehicles will play an important role in efforts to protect the environment and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil, and they are seeking more sustainable fleet solutions by testing promising new technologies that support local, green jobs.

“When it comes to growing the economy and fighting global warming, the City of Minneapolis is walking the talk,” said Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. “Adding this new, all-electric vehicle to our fleet means we’re actively supporting local green jobs and businesses, improving our region’s sustainability and saving the taxpayers money in the long term.”

Xcel Energy offered a number of municipalities, government agencies and businesses the opportunity to be among the first in the country to receive the all-electric Ford Transit Connect commercial van as part of Azure Dynamics Corp.’s “Lead Customer” program. Xcel Energy is providing $20,000 for each vehicle purchased. Partners include the City of Saint Paul, City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Metropolitan Airports Commission and Ramsey County. Other members of the Minnesota partnership, the City of Saint Paul and Ramsey County, have or will get Transit Connects as they roll off the assembly line for a total of eight.

"This innovative initiative offers us great experience to prepare for the growth of electric vehicles on our system," said Judy Poferl, president and CEO of Northern States Power Co. – Minnesota, an Xcel Energy company. "We are glad to support the deployment of these Transit Connects and look forward to seeing them take to the streets in the communities we serve."

Ford Transit Connect Electric is a collaborative effort between Ford Motor Company and Azure Dynamics Corp. and reflects the increasing interest in electrified vehicles for the commercial sector. The Ford Transit Connect Electric uses an advanced lithium-ion battery from Johnson Controls to achieve a range of up to 80 miles on a single charge and is rechargeable using either a 240-volt or standard 120-volt outlet. Commercial vans generally return to a central location at the end of each driving cycle, making for easy overnight recharging. Use of the vehicles will also reduce fuel and maintenance costs, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions. All-electric Transit Connects emit no tailpipe pollution and represent about a 75 percent reduction of carbon dioxide compared to full-sized gas-powered pickups.

“Currently, at least a third of the hazardous air pollutants in Minnesota come from cars and trucks,” said Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Paul Aasen. “The MPCA is pleased to participate in a program that could help reduce these pollutants by using electric vehicles. We look forward to putting our own Transit Connect vehicle to work in the metro area.”

"Hennepin County has a long-standing reputation throughout the nation as an active steward of our environment," said Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin. "Testing an all-electric Ford Transit Connect is the next step in making sure we’re doing everything possible to stay on the forefront of environmental protection. We want residents to realize that they are not the only ones asking: how can I make my actions more environmentally friendly? How can I help make sure the natural resources we need are available for generations to come? Hennepin County is asking as well."

"The Metropolitan Airports Commission is excited to have the opportunity to put this new all-electric vehicle through the paces at Minneapolis-St. Paul International and our six general aviation airports," said MAC Executive Director Jeff Hamiel. "Long term, our goal is to incorporate as many electric and flexible-fuel vehicles into our fleet as possible. Participation in the Drive Electric Minnesota program is consistent with our commitment to operate our airports in an environmentally and financially sustainable manner."

The City of Minneapolis will use its electric Transit Connect in the Public Works Fleet Services Distribution Center to pick up parts and supplies from vendors throughout the Twin Cities area. The City’s parts running vehicle can put on 20,000 miles per year. The City anticipates fuel savings for this zero emissions vehicle to be more than $40,000 over the next eight years, compared to the Ford F250 it replaces.

Xcel Energy will use its Transit Connect throughout the metro area within its Property Services group, which manages work space for the company. Xcel Energy plans to use the data from its vehicles and partners’ vehicles to prepare for the impact of this emerging market on its system.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency plans to initially use the State of Minnesota electric Ford Transit Connect for daily transport of water samples to the Department of Health. This zero-tailpipe-emission vehicle will later be rotated through the state fleet to other agencies for uses such as transport of exhibit materials, parts delivery and interagency mail.

Hennepin County will use its Transit Connect to deliver interoffice mail among county buildings. An electric vehicle charging station for public use has also been installed under the partnership. The county's charger is located in the Hennepin County Library - Minneapolis Central underground parking ramp. Owners of electric vehicles may visit and click on the "EV Drivers" tab to request a charger access card. Currently there is no fee to use the charger, but users are required to pay the usual parking ramp fees.

The Metropolitan Airports Commission will test its new Ford Transit Connect vehicle in a variety of environments. Initially, the new vehicle will primarily serve utility needs on the MSP International Airport airfield and airport roadways before becoming part of the overall MAC fleet available for on- and off-airport transportation uses throughout the MAC airport system.

A number of the Ford Transit Connect’s components are manufactured locally, by Diversified Plastics in Minneapolis, Dynamic Air in Saint Paul and Product Development Solutions in Blaine. Drive Electric Minnesota members’ commitment to building more sustainable fleets equals growing local green manufacturers and local green jobs. For example, the RENEW job-training partnership between the City of Minneapolis and Ramsey County, which is funded by the federal Recovery Act, has already placed more than 580 disadvantaged workers into green-credentialing programs in manufacturing, construction, building systems and renewable energy. More than 240 of these workers have been placed in high-paying jobs based on their new qualifications.

Why electric vehicles? Electric vehicles are coming.

  • Electric vehicles cost less to run than gas-powered vehicles; electricity costs 2 to 3 cents per mile – that’s about 75 percent less than gas. In addition, fewer moving parts means less maintenance.
  • Locally generated energy reduces dependence on imported fossil fuels.  
  • Electric vehicles can be part of solving some of our air pollution problems. More than one third of hazardous air pollution comes from the use of cars and trucks. Electric vehicles emit no tailpipe pollution.
  • New technology is an opportunity for new green jobs in the region.

For details and more information about “why electric vehicles?” visit and scroll down to Drive Electric Minnesota Why EVs? in the resources section.

Drive Electric Minnesota is a partnership of local and state government, utilities, private business and nonprofit entities working in collaboration to bring electric vehicles and plug-in charging infrastructure to Minnesota. The partnership’s goals include encouraging the deployment of electric vehicles and the establishment of charging station infrastructure through public-private partnerships, financial incentives, education, technical support and public policy. For more information, visit

B-roll video featuring the new all-electric vehicles and event will be available for media use later in the day at in the media resources section.

New electric vehicle for MSP