ONE of the shining lights of North East industry has unveiled its latest vehicle designed in collaboration with a leading motor company.
The Tanfield Group cemented its relationship with Ford with yesterday’s unveiling of the Ampere, which was developed entirely in the North East by Tanfield’s Smith Electric Vehicles trading division, based in Washington.
The van, which can travel more than 100 miles on a single battery charge and has a top speed of 70mph, is based on the Ford Transit Connect Chassis and is co-branded Ford and Smith.
It was revealed to the motor trade on both companies’ stands at the Commercial Vehicle Show at the NEC in Birmingham yesterday.
The Ampere – which Tanfield chief executive Darren Kell said would generally be shortened to Amp – will be marketed at businesses using fleets of vehicles in built up areas, such as postal and utility companies.
Mr Kell said: “It is a light van, it is front wheel drive and it is comparable in performance to a diesel van.”
The Amp is part of a wider link up between Tanfield and Ford. The two groups have reached a broad agreement to collaborate on zero emission vehicles and further sales, marketing and product development opportunities in Europe and the US.
Mr Kell said: “The link up with Ford started in January 07 but it was really only formalised very recently. It’s very important – it gives us a strong level of credibility. Ford controls and dominates the commercial vehicle sector. We’re very excited about the whole joint venture.”
The collaboration helps Tanfield consolidate its position in the lucrative US market, where Mr Kell said electric vehicles do not face the same image problem as they do in the UK. He said: “We are very active in North America and we are seeing a huge development in demand. They are very worried about energy security – the security of oil in the future – and they are also every concerned about air quality and pollution at local city level.
“They are more acceptant of electric vehicles, so the ramp up of vehicles could be faster there. British people are generally quite conservative. It is a bigger cultural shift here.”
Basing the vehicles on a Ford chassis also makes them instantly recognisable and acceptable to US customers, he said.
Steve Kimber, head of commercial vehicles for Ford in Britain, said: “As the UK market leader in commercial vehicles, it makes sound business sense for us to fully engage with the market leader in commercial electric vehicles. Demand for zero emission vehicles is growing exponentially as the battery and drive line technology improve their performance. Ford’s collaboration with Tanfield places us in pole position to fully exploit this opportunity.”
Tanfield also used the Commercial Vehicle Show to launch the Faraday mark II, a larger commercial vehicle designed around a Ford chassis.
Tanfield has grown from a sub-contract engineering business employing 10 people to a group which is anticipating sales of £100m this year. Its electric vehicles wing is a world leader in its sector and it also operates aerial lift company UpRight Powered Access, in addition to retaining its engineering business.
The fab four
TANFIELD produces four electric powered vehicles which can travel 100 miles on one battery charge.
:: The Ampere has a top speed of 70mph. It weighs 2,340kg and has a payload capacity of 800kg.
:: The Faraday II weighs up to 13,000kg.
:: The Edison is the world’s first purely-electric powered van with a weight of below 3,500kg. It has a 50mph top speed.
:: The Newton is the world’s biggest pure electric truck and weighs between 7,500kg and 12,000kg. It has a 50mph top speed.
PAGE TWO: Take a look back at Tanfield's rapid rise to power.
Click on the links below for a look back at Tanfield's rapid rise to power: