When a Ford Transit Connect is discussed, what usually comes front-of-mind is efficiency in packaging. What Ford's European branch's engineers were able to make of the Transit Connect's small footprint is nothing short of amazing. After spending time with one, it's easy to see why it's one of the most popular panel vans in Europe, and quickly gaining a large following here, even earning the 2010 North American Truck of the Year award.

Well now, the Ford Transit Connect is no longer just efficient in its packaging, but also in its fuel consumption, thanks to Azure Dynamics stuffing an electric motor underneath the hood of the little MPV. In fact, thanks to the new heart, the Transit Connect Electric uses no gasoline at all.

The state of California finds this very appealing, too, as it has now included the Transit Connect Electric in its Hybrid Incentive Voucher Program. Fleets looking to add a Transit Connect Electric to their stables can take advantage of the deal, getting a $15,000 voucher for the first car they add to the fleet. Any car added after that for the rest of 2011's fiscal year will get a $12,000 voucher.

Those who can't make the purchase before February will be able to take advantage of next year's voucher plan, meaning $12,000 vouchers for the first three cars, $10,000 vouchers for cars four through 30, $8000 for 31-65, and $6000 for 66-100.

This is all before the $7500 Federal EV Tax Credit, too, meaning even more savings for fleet owners. If those owners aren't fond of Ford's light-duty truck, these vouchers also apply to zero-emissions commercial vehicles between 5001 and 8500 pounds.

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Tom Cassady comes from a family that has been present in the automotive industry for generations, sowing the car enthusiast seed at a young age. When he's not tracking the industry, Tom likes to run, eat buffalo wings, play soccer and partake in the finest of brown spirits.

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