|The WattStation Connect network will enable Ford to gather information on charging station use. Click to enlarge.|
Ford Motor Company, in conjunction with GE, will supply electric vehicle charging stations at Ford facilities nationwide, beginning with facilities in and around its headquarters. Ford will begin installing the GE WattStation Level 2 charging stations across its North American campuses, developing a workplace charging network at nearly every Ford facility in the United States and Canada.
Ford now offers three plug-in vehicles: the battery electric Focus Electric, and the C-MAX Energi and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrids. Ford Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi drivers typically make three of their four daily trips in all-electric mode, based on data from Ford’s MyFord Mobile app. Ford estimates that its customers now have logged 65 million all-electric miles, increasing at a rate of 290,000 electric miles per day.
(MyFord Mobile is complimentary for five years from the vehicle sale date as recorded by the dealer. Subscriptions fees apply after five years. MyFord Mobile requires a compatible 2G independent cellular network.)
By adding another charge opportunity during the day at the workplace, it might be possible for employees to be able to accomplish all of their workweek trips without using gasoline.
With the new charging network, Ford employees commuting to their jobs from up to 21 miles away in plug-in hybrid vehicles—Fusion Energi and C-MAX Energi—may be able to drive entirely on electric power to and from work. Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi have EPA-estimated MPG ratings of 44 mpg US city, 41 highway and 43 combined and have an EPA-estimated range of 21 miles (34 km) electric. Drivers of the electric-only Focus Electric, which has an EPA-estimated range of 76 miles (122 km) on a full charge, will have even more gas-free commuting potential.
The Ford charging service will be free to employees for the first four hours of charging each day. By offering free charging, Ford is trying to encourage charging station sharing, enabling twice as many employees to charge at work for free.
Ford is also asking employees to use the MyFord Mobile smartphone app to collect driving and charging information to help the company understand driving patterns and potentially influence future product design. Ford estimates it will cost about 50 cents to fully charge each vehicle.
Ford’s WattStation charging station units will be networked together. As a result, the company will be able to gather comprehensive information on electrified vehicle use, such as the number of hours vehicles are charging and the amount of carbon dioxide reduced. It can then use actual station data to plan for additional station installations.
Ford plans to install electric vehicle charging stations at more than 60 of its offices, product development campuses and manufacturing facilities. Installation will begin at Ford’s southeast Michigan facilities and roll out across other facilities throughout 2014.
Throughout North America, the number of charging stations—both public and residential—is growing rapidly. In 2009, there were 3,000 known public charge stations. Today, there are more than 20,000.
GE was the first major company to add C-MAX Energi vehicles to its fleet. Ford and GE are working with researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology to study GE fleet driving and charging habits, with the goal of improving all-electric driving and charging performance.
Ford’s MyFord Mobile app provides drivers with real-time battery charge status and a value charging option that automatically schedules charging at lower-cost, off-peak electricity rates (based on the local utility’s participation).
Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. The announcement continues the innovative cooperation begun more than 100 years ago between Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, co-founder of GE.
Henry Ford’s history of working with Thomas Edison dates back to the late 1800s, when Ford worked for the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. In 1892, Edison co-founded General Electric. In 1896, Ford attended a lecture given by Edison, which inspired him to discuss his ideas with the renowned scientist, thus beginning a strong friendship that endured for the rest of their lives.
Henry Ford had a strong interest in electric vehicles. He bought two for his wife, Clara, in 1908 and 1914, and installed a charging station in their garage. Several years after Ford Motor Company was founded in 1903, Ford and Edison began experimenting with their own electric vehicles using Edison batteries.
The vehicles never went to market, but it marked the beginning of a relationship between the two men’s companies that remains. Last fall, GE purchased 2,000 Ford C-MAX Energi vehicles, supporting its goal of converting half of its fleet to alternative energy vehicles.
Triple Pundit will host a Google Hangout today at noon EDT with Mike Tinskey from Ford, Debora Frodl, global executive director of Ecomagination at GE, and Hauker Asgeirsson, manager of power systems technologies at Detroit Edison, to discuss what’s happening in global energy innovation, as well as the challenges and changes envisioned for the future.