Ford offers 'turnkey' EV charging solutions for fleet customers

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co.'s commercial fleet business is rolling out software and hardware charging solutions to encourage adoption of electric vehicles for delivery companies, governments, contractors and more.

Ford Pro Charging seeks to ease the transition for commercial customers to EVs like the E-Transit van and Lightning Pro pickup truck to decrease maintenance costs, minimize emissions and drive down the total cost of ownership by installing charging stations, providing maintenance services and leveraging data collected by the vehicles to predict and manage operations.

Ford Pro Charging with E-Telematics offers information to manage a commercial fleet. The Ford E-Transit van will be available in early 2022.

"We've said that we will be No. 2 in production of electrified vehicles within two years, and we will be No. 1 in production of commercial electrified vehicles," Ford Pro CEO Ted Cannis said during a conference call. "But a vehicle in a connected world is not enough. It requires a vehicle charging set of solutions and connected solutions that are integrated in an end-to-end approach that are backed along the way, not a bunch of handouts of piecing the partners together."

Ford says it has a "turnkey approach," providing consulting services to help customers determine the amount and types of charging infrastructure they need, if at all, and to help them work with utilities and identify available incentives.

"In most of our customers now as they're scaling their fleet, they're realizing that the energy capacity of the transformers that they have at their depots are not going to be sufficient," said Muffi Ghadiali, head of Ford Pro Charging. "And guess what? Upgrading the transformer is not an easy thing. It sometimes might take a year or two just to get the permit to upgrade and it could be hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars."

Ford's equipment can support vehicles from other automakers and classes from forklifts to heavy-duty trucks, the Dearborn automaker said. Solar generation also will be a critical part of providing resiliency, Ghadiali said.

The service also can provide answers to problems by determining the best time to charge based on energy rates and tracking, reporting and simplifying driver reimbursement for at-home charging. With Ford Pro E-Telematics, which comes with the first three years at no cost, customers also can get the best performance and range with tools like pre-conditioning that will heat the vehicle battery to the right temperature for a trip at a scheduled time.

Ted Cannis, CEO of Ford Pro

Certain elements like installation of equipment will be one-time or financed charges, but software and maintenance services will be subscription-based. Ford didn't disclose the costs for those as they can differ based on fleet size, but Cannis said they'd be "competitive" with larger margins associated with software than hardware.

Ford supports 125,000 fleet customers in the United States that trade out 10% to 15% of their fleet annually. That represents a 43% market share, according to Ford. The company forecasts the commercial and government segments could grow to more than 300,000 annual U.S. sales industry-wide of electric vans and trucks by 2030 with 900,000 already on the road. That could fuel $1 billion in annual revenue for Ford in North America.

Ford Pro Charging customers also will have access to more than 70,000 public charging ports, including more than 7,300 DC fast-charging ports on the Blue Oval Charging Network.

"There are many solutions out there, but there are certain things that a fleet needs, such as integration into their operational systems, industrial grade hardware, simple things like driver authentication without having a driver app," Ghadiali said. "And all of this really come to bear because of the deep technology investments that we made."

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble