DEARBORN, Mich. -- Ford Motor Co. has picked Detroit, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Southern California as test markets for an electric- powered prototype van in 1993.
The Ecostar is designed to go up to 75 miles per hour and has a driving range of 100 miles, Ford officials said Thursday. Some vehicles will be able to go 250 miles before needing a recharge.
Among the first companies in the nation to try 1993 Ecostar vans are Detroit Edison, Southern California Edison, Allegheny Power System in Pittsburgh, Commonwealth Edison in Chicago and the city of Chicago, said John Wallace, director of the Ford electric vehicle program.
Ford sees the Ecostar as a delivery van for businesses. It plans to market it to companies that have fleets of vehicles.
'Ecostars will be driven in real working environments in about 10 U. S. and European cities for several years before we will be satisfied enough to make electric vehicles generally available for sale,' said Wallace.
'This is the first step in our commitment to full-scale production of both electric cars and vans,' he said. 'We are not going to put Ford electric vehicles on public sale until they have undergone durability and operational testing, and we are certain they meet quality and customer-satisfaction standards.'
Only 80 1993 Ecostars will be made. Ford Chairman Harold Poling said if the Ecostar performs capably over the long term, the carmaker will mass produce it.
'(The Ecostars) will be produced in larger volume later in the decade after we have fully evaluated their performance in real-world use,' Poling said.
The standard Ecostar's power source is a sodium sulfur battery that takes about six hours to recharge, Wallace said. A 'range extender' on some Ecostars can charge the battery through an alternator, more than doubling the number of miles the van can go before it needs a recharge.