The Ford Ecostar project began in 1990. The aim was to build a practical electric vehicle for use by businesses in towns and cities. The Ecostar can accelerate as fast as a petrol or diesel van to a top speed of around 70mph. It can run for around 100 miles between battery charges.
The vehicle chosen as a test rig for the new power plant was the European Escort van, built at Halewood on Merseyside. From there, 80 vans were sent to America for modification to accommodate the motor, a single speed transaxle, battery and controls.
The heart of the vehicle was Ford’s sodium/sulphur battery which gave three times the output of a lead acid equivalent. Charging from a domestic supply took around 5 hours.
The vans underwent tests in 1993, working in real life situations with police forces, Royal Mail and other utility users. Results were encouraging and the range was expanded in 1998 to include a pick-up truck called the Ford Ranger.