Azure Dynamics looks to expand in medium trucks

DETROIT Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:03pm EST

Azure Dynamics CEO Scott Harrison talks with Reuters correspondents during the Reuters Autos Summit in Detroit, November 15, 2010. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Azure Dynamics CEO Scott Harrison talks with Reuters correspondents during the Reuters Autos Summit in Detroit, November 15, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Rebecca Cook

DETROIT (Reuters) - Azure Dynamics AZD.TO is looking for a manufacturer to work on an electric or hybrid version of a medium-duty commercial vehicle by 2012, Chief Executive Scott Harrison said on Monday.

Azure Dynamics has partnerships with Ford Motor Co (F.N) on an electric version of the automaker's Transit Connect small commercial van and a hybrid version of its E-450 cargo van and is looking for a partnership on a vehicle in between, Harrison told the Reuters Autos Summit.

The additional vehicle would give customers a wider range of driving cycle or cargo hauling options, Harrison said.

He said the company's ties to Ford were nonexclusive and Azure would want to evaluate vehicles like commercial work versions of the Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks.

"We want to play in the medium-duty truck market and Ford is the dominant player in the medium-duty truck market and so the relationship makes sense," Harrison said.

Azure Dynamics expects to triple its revenue in 2011 from a more than $20 million in 2010 and to increase revenue from there in 2012 as it introduces the electric Transit Connect and looks for additional products, Harrison said.

"I think that is a good rough estimate," Harrison said when asked whether it would be in position to have a partner for medium-duty trucks by 2012.

Azure Dynamics has identified six of its 10 lead customers for the electric Transit Connect. It expects in 2011 to sell 600 to 1,000 electric Transit Connects globally, he said.

"It's been a great relationship with Ford, and being able to tap into not just to their engineering expertise, but using their dealer network to sell and service our products," Harrison said.

The forecast for tripling revenue in 2011 "starts to get us close to that breakeven point," Harrison said.

Harrison said that Azure Dynamics, a decade-old company based outside Detroit, would be able to meet demand for electric Transit Connect vans even if orders were double the high end of its projected range of 1,000 vehicles.

Azure Dynamics has a production contract with AM General MAFHDG.UL to modify Ford vehicles to add Azure's electric-drive system for the Transit Connect.

A joint venture between Johnson Controls (JCI.N) and France's Saft (S1A.PA) supplies lithium-ion battery packs for the electric Transit Connect. The vehicle is designed to have a range of over 80 miles on a full charge.

Johnson Controls bought 3.4 percent of Azure Dynamics in a deal announced in June.

(Reporting by David Bailey. Editing by Robert MacMillan)

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