The announcement continues the innovative cooperation begun more than 100 years ago between Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, co-founder of GE.
This month, Ford will begin installing GE WattStationà¢â€ž- charging stations across its North American campuses, developing a workplace charging network at nearly every Ford facility in the United States and Canada.
“Ford’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond our fuel-efficient vehicles to include our daily workplace,” said Mike Tinskey, Ford director of vehicle electrification and infrastructure. “We know that a growing electrified vehicle infrastructure is key to making plug-in vehicles a viable option for more consumers. Ford is committed to doing its part to help develop that infrastructure.”
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.
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.
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 installation differs from other workplace charging installations in that the 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.
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 your local utility’s participation).
Early work between Henry Ford and Thomas Edison
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 stands strong today. Last fall, GE purchased 2,000 Ford C-MAX Energi vehicles, supporting its goal of converting half of its fleet to alternative energy vehicles. Today’s charging station announcement further proves the companies’ commitment to the growth of the electrified vehicle market.