At this week's 2010 Chicago auto show, Ford is introducing no less than three new propulsion options for its Ford Transit Connect commercial vehicle workhorse, along with showcasing a Taxi version of the vehicle that could serve as Ford's eventual replacement for its long-serving Crown Victoria.

Included in the Transit Connect's expanded powertrain mix is the long-expected EV version featuring a lithium-ion battery pack, along with compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas-powered models. Ford says all of them will be available at the end of the year and claims the biggest benefit of the new options are reduced operating costs - which Ford believes will be music to commercial fleet owner's ears.

First up: The Transit Connect Electric. It's the first entry in Ford's aggressive electric vehicle strategy, going into production in late 2010. Following it will be an electric Focus in 2011 and an unnamed plug-in hybrid model in 2012.

This Transit Connect uses a liquid-cooled, lithium-ion battery pack supplied by Azure Dynamics, a company that specializes in electric powertrains for commercial vehicles. The connection between Azure and Ford is budding one. Azure's Balance Hybrid Electric is a medium-duty commercial truck based off the Ford E-450.