Ford has debuted a lineup of commercial EV chargers for customers in the US. According to Electrive, the new chargers range from an 11.5 kW Ford Pro model to a 180 kW modular DC fast charging station. The new chargers are arriving just in time to support the 2022 E-Transit van that is on its way to dealers at this moment and the F-150 Lightning that is expect to be in showrooms before this summer.
“We are investing heavily in products and services to help commercial customers accelerate into an electric future, which means helping to ensure our hardware and software can plug and play with other manufacturers, as we know many customers operate mixed-make fleets,” says Ted Cannis, Ford Pro CEO. “These chargers can be completely customized to unique commercial environments and can work even better when paired together with Ford Pro electric vehicles and Telematics to enable OEM-grade data transparency.”
Ford Pro was announced at the end of January as a new arm of the Ford Motor Company dedicated exclusively to meeting the needs of commercial customers. At the time, the company says it intends to be the Tesla of commercial vehicles.
Ford emphasizes that it has “decades of experience in commercial project development and installations. It starts with sitting down with our customers to learn their business and how they plan to use their electric vehicles,” says Muffi Ghadiali, Ford Pro Charging general manager. “Regardless of the size of their business or the industry they are in, we’ll help them plan their charging infrastructure — whether it’s installing home chargers for employees or developing a large scale depot system — to make the transition to electric seamless.”
Ford Pro will also support its commercial electric vehicle customers with software solutions so fleet managers can better track their fleets. “Ford Pro is the only commercial services provider in North America to offer a range of services to help customers truly benefit from the advantages of going electric, including maximizing fleet efficiency and lowering costs, along with ongoing vehicle and charger maintenance,” says Ghadiali.
New Zero Inventory Model For EVs
Tesla has pioneered about a zillion things that are unique in the auto business. One that often gets overlooked among all the hype about drag races with fighter jets and supercars is that it has no dealers and no dealer inventory.
In the ordinary world, after a car is built and delivered to a dealer, it immediately has to be insured and — in many jurisdictions — start paying taxes. The manufacturer wants to get paid, so dealers take out inventory loans to pay for the cars while they wait to be matched up with customers. All of those things cost money.
Based on a report by Automotive News, Ford Authority says the company is considering a “zero inventory” sales model for its electric vehicles similar to the approach pioneered by Tesla. Those vehicles would be built to order, just as Teslas are. The advantage is the dealers would no longer have to pay insurance, taxes, and financing charges on unsold cars and trucks. The downside for dealers is they would be required to sell the electric vehicles for a fixed price — no $5,000 “market adjustments” allowed.
Dealers who currently sell the Mustang Mach-E and E-Transit will be able to continue doing so — along with the Ford F-150 Lightning — through the end of 2023. The new retail model would begin in January of 2024.
Ford, along with other automakers, has been confronting the computer chip shortage by trying to limit the number of options available and encouraging customers to order directly from the factory. It’s working. Almost a third of sales in February were cars ordered rather than purchased from existing inventory.
Ford has been getting some negative press lately because of some dealers who are trying to gouge EV customers with extra markups and phony charges to move them up in the queue of people waiting for Mach-Es and F-150 Lightnings. Most customers would probably appreciate not having to haggle with dealers over the purchase price. But many dealers make their living by slapping customers around in the showroom, as evidenced by this famous scene from the movie Fargo.
Now to see whether Ford follows through with this plan and whether its dealers will buy in to the new business model. Some won’t, and apparently those dealers will be allowed to continue to sell gas pigs in the usual way, just as some Cadillac dealers have told GM they want nothing to do with those newfangled e-lectric vehicles it is bringing to market soon. If you were a Ford dealer, what would you do?
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