Starting out with EVs can be hard, and as I’ve found out, it’s even harder when you’re stupid. While I don’t suffer from any intellectual disabilities, I simply didn’t know what I was getting into when I bought my first serious EV. I had only daily driven a PHEV (Chevy Volt) and an earlier version of the LEAF that I never drove far from home. When I bought the 2018, I thought the EPA rated range of 150 miles actually meant something meaningful in the real world, and I stupidly planned road trips based on that number. It didn’t take long to realize that I was in over my head, and that I had a learning curve in front of me.
Will Rogers once said: “There are three kinds of men: The ones that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”
That’s one of the things we’ve spent part of our time on here at CleanTechnica. We’ve done the dumb with our EVs, learned to not be as dumb, and we have done what we could to help new EV owners not pee on the electric fence. It’s important that we all try to coach and mentor our friends and relatives, too. So, I hope we’ve at least become a good resource you all can point friends and family to!
Something really cool I saw in a recent Ford press release is that it isn’t going to take the “sell it and forget about it” approach to selling EVs, especially to its commercial customers. Ford wants to not only help customers select an EV that fits their needs, but also to help keep the buyer informed. We’ve already covered the way Ford has built a robust suite of connected software and sensors to make sure F-150 Lightning buyers get accurate towing range estimates, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg here.
“At Ford Pro, we’re aligning our business model to support customers who want to create a positive impact on people and the planet,” said Ted Cannis, Ford Pro CEO. “We know the transition to electric vehicles can come with uncertainties. That’s why we’re focused on working with pioneers like Wilbur-Ellis and PG&E, helping them quickly realize the benefits of combining electric vehicles with charging solutions and data insights to help achieve their sustainability goals, improve how energy is managed, accelerate their productivity and improve bottom lines.”
So, Ford is working not only with commercial buyers, but it is also working with utilities and other resources to make sure commercial customers hit the ground running (and in the right direction) with their new EVs. This starts, of course, with studying commercial needs, but only ends once customers get full benefit of the experience and knowledge Ford and its partners have achieved.
One such early partnership is a pilot program between Ford Pro and Sonoma County Winegrowers, designed to create a blueprint for how industries and companies can best adopt and manage battery electric vehicles for the next frontier in sustainable fleet operations using Ford Pro products and services.
“We have over 50 vehicles on Ford Pro Telematics and have already identified insights that are improving our bottom line like long idle times costing us an estimated $24,000 per year in wasted gas,” said Marissa Ledbetter of Vino Farms in Sonoma County. “Ford Pro Telematics has improved efficiency and productivity by helping us reduce vehicle downtime through complete visibility into maintenance needs, and we expect those benefits to grow as electric vehicles and charging stations become a more regular part of our operations.”
In other words, it’s a two-way exchange of information. Ford learns about the needs of a growing variety of customers, and teaches these customers how to better manage EV fleets going forward.
Ford Pro isn’t stopping with commercial customers, either. It is also working with government agencies, like municipal police departments, to ensure that their differing (but similar) needs are taken care of, too.
Ford Pro’s partnership with the New York Police Department is a great example of this. After getting the Mach-E rated by the Michigan State Police, it is now working with the NYPD to start putting EVs on the streets. Like the commercial users, there needs to be a two-way exchange of information so that manufacturers can better know municipal and police vehicle needs, while also giving these government buyers information they need to make realistic decisions when putting vehicles on the road.
In this case, NYPD expects to purchase 1,200 EV police vehicles in 2022 and is aiming for a full EV fleet by 2035. The latest test vehicle showing up at auto shows is a Mach-E GT, and is, of course, modified and equipped to serve police needs.
While government and police needs will differ from those of commercial buyers, there are also many commonalities. They tend to drive a lot more miles each day than commuters and families tend to go, so larger battery range is important, but often not as insanely important as people think. Like taxis and Uber drivers, police and many commercial users spend a lot of time in stop-and-go traffic and idling near a place they’re working, so they’ll get a lot more range than a gas-powered vehicle would in those conditions.
So, really, this is a large multi-way exchange of information. Not only is Ford working with utilities, electricians, dealers, and other EV service providers, but it is serving as a hub of learning and information exchange with a broad variety of commercial, personal, and government buyers. Lessons one kind of user learns can be shared with other users, making everyone better off.
Even better, some of this happens automatically. As we mentioned in the article about the F-150 Lightning’s accurate towing range, information on vehicle performance and usage from other users is part of the data that onboard computers consider when giving you a range. So, Ford is building a hive-mind of sorts to make sure the different needs of other users gets shared without some analyst having to prepare and disseminate intelligence reports (but that’s happening too for high-level learning).
But, unlike The Borg, Ford is actually serving everyone’s freedom to get the job done with their cybernetic collective. That’s a great thing!
Featured image by Ford.
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