Detroit Edison, a subsidiary of gas and electric conglomerate DTE Energy, is adding four Ford Motor Co. all-electric Transit Connect vans to its fleet for use by field crews in repair and maintenance and operations for electrical lines and other equipment throughout its electric distribution system.

“The addition of these all-electric Transit Connects to our fleet will help Detroit Edison advance the use of electric vehicles in a couple of ways,” said Steve Kurmas, Detroit Edison’s president & COO, in a statement.

“First, we will learn firsthand how these vehicles perform in day-to-day field operations and how we can make the best use of their unique characteristics,” he noted. “Second, they will help us learn more about how the use of electric vehicles by consumers and businesses will impact the electrical system and what utilities need to do to support adoption of these vehicles.”

Fitted with a “Force Drive” battery electric powertrain made by Azure Dynamics and featuring Johnson Controls-Saft’s advanced lithium-ion battery technology, Ford’s all-electric Transit Connect is expected to offer Detroit Edison a range of 50 to 80 mi. per full charge, and will be rechargeable using either 240-volt or standard 120-volt outlets.