Ford betting big on electric vehicles

by Jim Park

Ford’s electrification plans include the popular Transit.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Ford Motor Co. is investing invest more than US$11.5 billion into vehicle electrification by 2022 to capitalize on the growing North American electric vehicle market. The sector is expected to grow to about 8% of the total U.S. vehicle population by 2025.

Ford said during a press conference at the NTEA Work Truck Show that it intends to lead the transition to zero emissions in the light and medium-duty commercial segment with an all-electric version of the popular Transit van for the U.S. and Canada beginning in model-year 2022. Recent additions to electric lineup include the Mustang Mach-E and the all-electric F-150, announced last year.

The electric Transit will be available in cargo van, cutaway and chassis cab configurations with three roof heights and three wheelbases. Ford plans to optimize the cargo capacity by mounting the batteries under the chassis so the interior space isn’t compromised. There will be different range options available based on vehicle configuration and battery pack size, but Ford did not give specifics on range, chassis weight or charging times.

“It’s not enough to just add batteries,” said Ted Cannis, Ford’s global director for electrification. “We are leveraging scale, sharing motors and battery components to make the best business case for us and our customers.”

Smart technology built into the all-electric Transit will help optimize fleet efficiency and reduce waste, as well as improve driver behavior by providing insights into operator performance. Fleets can leverage insightful data collected through Ford Telematics using an embedded FordPass Connect modem, which doubles as a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot with connectivity for up to 10 devices.

Fleet managers can use Ford Data Services tools like live map GPS tracking, geofencing and vehicle diagnostics to view key performance indicators for vehicle and driver at-a-glance.

“Fleet managers will move from being tactical to more strategic, and tools that we provide through the connected vehicles and Ford Commercial Services are really going to make this happen,” says Mark Buzzell, director of Ford’s North American fleet, lease and re-marketing operations.

A suite of Ford driver-assist technologies can help improve driver confidence and avoid or reduce the severity of collisions. The Transit will include standard Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking plus Pedestrian Detection, Forward Collision Warning, Post-Collision Braking, Lane-Keeping System and auto high-beam headlamps.

“Commercial vehicles are a critical component to our big bet on electrification,” said Jim Farley, chief operating officer, Ford Motor Company in a press release. “As leaders in this space, we are accelerating our plans to create solutions that help businesses run better, starting with our all-electric Transit and F-150. This Ford Transit isn’t just about creating an electric drivetrain, it’s about designing and developing a digital product that propels fleets forward.”

Ford will team with Electrify America and several others to develop a network of up to 12,500 charging station.

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