Ford Motor Co. will offer buyers of its upcoming, “Mustang-inspired” battery-SUV access to what it is billing as the “largest electric vehicle public charging network” in North America.
- Ford will let buyers of its coming battery-electric vehicles plug in at more than 12,000 U.S. and Canadian public charging stations.
- The automaker also will make it easy to set up a permanent home charger, while also equipping its EVs with mobile chargers that can tap 120 or 240-volt outlets.
- Ford is not alone. A number of competitors are partnering with public charging companies or, like Tesla, setting up networks of their own.
The announcement, which covers more than 12,000 stations in the U.S. and Canada collectively operating about 35,000 chargers, could play a significant role in enhancing the appeal of the new battery-electric vehicle by making it easier to operate on long trips or if an owner can’t set up a home charger.
“We will deliver a charging experience that is hassle-free whether you’re at home or on-the-go,” said Matt Stover, Ford’s director of charging, energy services and business development.
Ford has been testing an all-electric SUV. (Photo: Ford)
To put together a network that size, Ford teamed up with Greenlots, a subsidiary of Shell, as well as Electrify America which is backed by a $2 billion fund set up as part of the settlement of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal. Owners of the upcoming Ford SUV and subsequent battery-cars will be able to plug in at either network and skip having to use cash or a credit card. Instead, they will simply rely on a special smartphone app.
The lack of a nationwide charging network – and fast-chargers, in particular – has been considered one of the key obstacles preventing more widespread adoption of battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs. But thousands of new stations have gone in across the U.S. this year, especially along the coasts, where the technology has met stronger interest.
Another concern is range, but the latest generation of BEVs typically delivers 200 and, in some cases, more than 300 miles per charge, making it possible for motorists to cover day-to-day chores without dreaded “range anxiety.”
Ford-branded home chargers could be a common sight. (Photo: Ford)
Research shows the majority of current EV owners plug in at home or office, even where fast chargers are available, and that is expected to remain true going forward, according to experts, including Pasquale Romano, the CEO of Chargepoint, one of the nation’s largest public charging companies.
Ford’s new EVs will come with mobile chargers capable of plugging into any 120 or 240-volt outlet. The automaker also is teaming up with Amazon Home Services to simplify the process of installing a fixed home charger. The Ford Connected Charge Station option will add more than 20 miles of range per hour, meaning most owners would begin the day with a fully charged battery.
But the access to a continent-wide network of public chargers, especially Level 3 systems capable of delivering 150 kilowatts of power, will make it possible to travel longer distances with less hassle. At 150 kW, said Ford in a statement, an owner can “expect to return most of their vehicle’s charge in about the same time it takes them to grab a fast-casual meal.”
Ford is by no means the only automaker partnering with public charging companies to enhance the appeal of its products. The VW, Audi and Porsche brands have all teamed up with Electrify America and, to add a further incentive, their buyers will get up to three years worth of free energy. Volvo, meanwhile, announced that its plug-based models, including the new, all-electric XC40 Recharge, will get a year of free power. Ford may announce a similar strategy when it reveals its new SUV, a debut expected to come at next month’s Los Angeles Auto Show.
Tesla has taken its own path to providing owners public charging options. It has set up a network of about 5,000 Supercharger stations across North America – and others in Europe and China. General Motors earlier this year indicated it is moving in the same direction, partnering with Bechtel to set up its own charging stations.
WHY THIS MATTERS
While battery-car range is rising, even as costs come down, the ready availability of fast public charging is considered one of the critical obstacles to widespread EV adoption. Ford, like key competitors, is taking steps to build up the necessary charging infrastructure.