Ford is launching a new project to help its commercial customers switch to electric vehicles by selling them EV charging installation equipment and software management tools.
The automaker says it expects to sell over 300,000 electric vehicles to businesses and government agencies over the next decade. To help ease the transition, Ford is launching a new project, called Ford Pro Charging, to offer the necessary software and hardware to aid in the charging of their electric vehicles.
Ford’s commercial vehicles will come with the automaker’s telematics software, which makes it easier for fleet owners to keep tabs on the location, charging status, or the health of their vehicles. This software will help commercial fleet operators figure when, where, and how often they’ll need to charge their EVs, depending on the types of energy that is being expended. For example, a customer that is using an electric Ford F-150 Lighting Pro truck to tow materials may end up using more battery power than a Ford E-Transit van used for deliveries, and therefore may need to charge more frequently.
Ford’s fleet software will also help operators tackle some of the more unconventional issues that might crop up as they switch to electric vehicles. For instance, some workers take their fleet vehicles home at night, fill up the gas tank on their own, and get reimbursed by their employer. Ford has previously said it will help install home chargers for those workers, writing into the fleet software a way to let employers reimburse workers for the cost of at-home charging.
“Let’s say the customer fleet returns around 10PM planning to go back out starting at 5AM,” Muffi Ghadiali, head of Ford Pro Charging, said. “You have a limited window for charging and have to make charging decisions in a highly dynamic environment. Does every vehicle need to be fully charged? Can we balance charge power against the available charging window to take advantage of low overnight energy rates? Ford Pro Charging accounts for a multitude of variables and controls each charge station precisely to optimize energy costs and ensure vehicle uptime.”
Ford Pro Charging customers will subscribe to the company’s software platform, meaning Ford will be able to count on subscription fees as recurring revenue. The amount that each customer pays is based on the number of vehicles or charge ports they have in operation, as well as a number of other variables.
Ford will also help install charging stations, whether at a customer’s home or at a depot for fleet vehicles. The company will install either AC or DC fast charging ports, depending on a customer’s needs. Ford said it is working with a number of different suppliers, though a spokesperson declined to provide any charging company names.
Ford also declined to disclose the amount of money it plans on spending on this project. Previously the company said it would spend $29 billion on electric and autonomous vehicles through 2025. Ford expects to start shipping the F-150 Lightning Pro, its electric pickup truck geared toward commercial customers, and the E-Transit van in 2022.
The demand for commercial EVs is likely to be huge over the decade. Under the Biden administration, the federal government alone is likely to spend billions of dollars purchasing hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles in order to fulfill the executive order to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
EV charging has been a challenge for the entire auto industry, Ford included. In 2019, the automaker introduced its FordPass network, claiming that EV owners would have access to 12,000 public chargers. But the branding made it seem as if Ford were launching its own version of Tesla’s Supercharger network, when it was actually tapping existing stations from companies like Electrify America. Earlier this year, the company stopped selling its Level 2 home chargers for the Mustang Mach-E after discovering some weren’t working.