On Dec. 9, 1997, the Ranger EV, a battery-powered version of Ford’s best-selling compact pickup, became the 12th unique technology in the company’s industry-leading lineup of alternate fuel vehicle choices.
The last of the planned 2,000 Ranger EVs were just delivered to customers, most of whom are public utility and commercial fleets. The largest single EV order came from the U.S. Postal Service, which runs some 600 Ranger-based EVs on the short, predictable stop-and-go routes best suited for battery-powered vehicles.
The fleet operators provide an excellent test for refining EV technology—things like battery management, energy storage, regenerative braking, and electrical systems and controls—that go into mass production next year on the first alt fuel SUV, the Ford Escape Hybrid Electric Vehicle
The Ranger EV—which moved alt fuel vehicles out of the labs and into the hands of everyday drivers—is an evolutionary step in Ford’s long, history of electric vehicle development.
In the 1960s the company invented the sodium-sulfur battery and built two-seater commuter cars in England. In the 70s, an electric Ford Cortina appeared in England, while in North America the first hybrid vehicle was a Ford Econoline van.
The 80s saw more experimental EVs and by the time Ford launched its Ecostar demonstration fleet in 1989, the company had tallied more than one million miles of EV driving experience.