Ford Highlights EV Efforts, Partnering with Utilities to Increase Adoption

July 15, 2021

During a recent webinar focusing on utility programs designed to increase fleet adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) within the state of California, the Ford Electric Vehicle Integration Manager Mark Poll emphasized the OEM’s growing commitment to EVs nationwide.

“We’re proud to be the only full-line U.S. automaker to stand with the Paris agreement and with California to adapt the strongest in the nation greenhouse gas standards,” said Poll, also pointing to the fact that Ford has increased its investment in electrification from $22 billion to $30 billion globally through 2025. “Ford is developing our products and services to help our fleet customers navigate this changing environment and take advantage of the opportunities that the new technology with electrification and connectivity allow.”

The recent reveal of the Ford F-150 Lightning Pro furthers the electric vehicle message and will likely increase adoption.

The automaker’s recent reveal of its F-150 Lightning Pro, and the upcoming release of the E-Transit, will further its EV message and likely increase adoption, as the F-150 has led truck sales for more than four decades.

F-150 Lightning Pro: Opening the Door for Increased EV Adoption

As a well-known model in the vocational space, the new F-150 Lightning Pro will give many fleets their first entry into the EV space. The inclusion of a front trunk — or “frunk” — gives work truck fleets more for tools and materials, and the inclusion of outlets throughout the truck offers workers a mobile generator, with four 120V outlets and one 240V outlet. The newly available Zone Lighting provides 360-degree visibility for crews that need to work in the evening.

The estimated range of 300 miles will also pave the way for more fleets to test the EV waters, as many vocational fleets’ daily driving habits are far less. The inclusion of smart technologies accessible through a mobile app, the web, or with in-vehicle 12-inch touchscreen allows for easy access to vehicle productivity information.

Data Assists E-Transit Development, TCO Improvement

While designing the E-Transit, which will be available later this year, Ford engineers compiled more than 30 million miles of Ford telematics connected vehicle data. This gave them an understanding of its customer’s needs, including providing adequate range and payload to meet their operational needs.

While designing the E-Transit, available later this year, Ford engineers compiled 30 million miles of Ford telematics data.

We found that the average commercial van in the U.S. travels less than 75 miles a day, so the E-Transit has a targeted EPA estimated range of 126 miles in the cargo van variant with a low roof,” explained Poll. “The cargo van has a maximum targeted payload of 3,800 pounds, which is beyond the capability of the gasoline Transit, so it provides credible capability to use this for real work situations.”

The total cost of ownership has also been improved with the new E-Transit, according to Poll, with an estimated 40% savings on scheduled maintenance. Compared to the gas-powered Transit, the 2022 E-Transit eliminates many of the scheduled maintenance items such as oil changes, transmission flushes, engine maintenance, and air filter replacements.

EV Evolution to Include Commercial Solutions, Charging Network

Construction and vocational fleets, better known as work truck fleets, have more riding on their vehicles than the typical driver, which is why Ford has brought along the new EV capabilities to build upon its Commercial Solutions offerings.

“The EV features will include a range map to monitor the distance capability in real time of the fleet,” said Poll, as well as alerts if the vehicle is not plugged in properly, charge logs to monitor energy consumption, and remote pre-conditioning so that the vehicle can be remotely scheduled to automatically heat or cool the cabin and the battery, so it can be ready to go in more severe weather conditions while maximizing the range for the upcoming work day.

Work truck fleets have more riding on their vehicles, which is why Ford brought new EV capabilities to its Commercial Solutions.

Ford also offers charging solutions to meet the needs of fleets of any configuration, including a mobile charger that provides 240-volt and 120-volt charging capability. The OEM also offers the Connected Charge Station, which is a higher-power, hard-wired solution that charges up to 48 amps or 11 kilowatts and provides an eight-hour, zero to 100% charge on the E-Transit. It is wifi-capable and provides additional data reporting and access management capabilities.

“We also provide home reimbursement reporting through our telematics solution for fleets to track the energy consumption for each driver to support reimbursement and provide remote access and management to the charge stations,” he added.

In terms of public charging, Ford’s Blue Oval Charge Network offers access to 63,000 plugs, including 6,000 DC fast-charging plugs from networks like Electrify America, ChargePoint, and EVgo. This allows fleet customers to have one central bill for public-charging needs for the entire fleet. Additionally, Ford’s recent acquisition of Electrify, a California-based company that provides charging management and fleet monitoring software for EVs, will be integrated into its Pro Commercial unit. This division is developing new commercial-focused charging offerings, including new depot solutions for its customers.

Beginning a Zero-Emission Journey

With 52 operating bases throughout Southern California, utility provider Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) is currently assessing a change to zero-emission vehicles, including the upcoming F-150 Lightning Pro. Accelerating the 2040 California mandate concerning 100% zero-emissions fleets by five years, Michael Franco, fleet financial and systems manager at SoCal Gas, and his team are already looking at the fleet’s options.

The recent webinar also focused on the utility programs in California designed to increase fleet adoption of electric vehicles.

“We are gathering data [on duty cycles and mileage ranges] as we begin our journey to set up a replacement plan to purchase these new electric and hydrogen vehicles,” said Franco, adding that any zero-emission vehicles must be able to meet the fleet’s territory demands, which includes extreme weather differences.

Of the more than 4,000 vehicles that make up the mixed fleet, 30% currently run on renewable natural gas, which Franco called a “bridge fuel” that will help lead his team to its 100% zero-emission goal by 2035.

“We are a prudent utility provider, and our fleet needs to meet the needs of our operations,” said Franco. “We need to ensure that the vehicles of the future can meet the demands we have today.”

Meeting Goals Means Productive Partnerships

For any fleet looking to electrify, the proper partnerships can make the transition smoother and more financially viable. In an effort to detail the options available to fleets within California, representatives from Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E), and Southern California Edison (SCE) gave attendees insight into each of their EV charging infrastructure programs.

PG&E’s EV Fleet program, SDG&E’s Power Your Drive for Fleets program, and SCE’s Charge Ready Transport program assist fleets in creating a proper EV charging infrastructure, provides incentives and rebates to reduce the cost of installation, and offers reduced rates to cut their fueling costs. Watch the recent webinar here.