Ford has promised to make many, many electric vehicles but so far they have not made any. It's going to change soon – including a "Mustang-inspired crossover" that I'm not sure anyone asked for, but anything – and Ford is getting ready to do so by forming a bunch of "partnerships" over how their customers can charge said yet-to-exist EVs.
As describes Detroit News Ford has identified four solutions:
- A partnership with Amazon to have a 240-volt charger installed at home, which the customer will have to pay for
- A Ford Mobile Charger who can use either a 240 or 1
- A FordPass Charging Network that, as of Detroit News, "gives drivers access to 12,000 charging stations around the country. Ford plans to partner with charging station provider Greenlots, Electrify America and other existing charging networks "that will only provide customers with" access "to the charging networks, but will not include the actual charging costs that the customer will have to pay for
- A FordPass -app feature to identify charging stations along a route where the car can be recharged, which the customer must pay for
All of these are fine and good, but not revolutionary. The most notable aspect is that the customer still has to pay for everything; Ford will just tell you exactly what to pay for. And third-party apps like Plugshare are already helping EV owners identify chargers along routes they can use.
This sounds like Ford's attempt to create a Tesla esque charging infrastructure, but it misses what makes Tesla's Supercharger network so great (in my humble opinion, it's the company's most underrated asset) . Superchargers are fast, easy, easy to use, and typically in strategic places like rest areas or malls where it's easy to kill 45 minutes or so while getting a decent charge.
That has really not been the case in Jalopnik's experience with other EV chargers, where we have all had different problems with slow, confusing chargers outside a random hotel or parking garage or whatever. That is, I get what Ford is trying to do here. If someone comes into a dealership and says that the whole charge makes them nervous and / or confused, the seller has a response that sounds good.
But it doesn't do much to solve the actual problems of charging EVs: plug compatibility is far more confusing than it should be, random slow chargers that add less than 10 miles of range within your 45-minute range shopping trip for seemingly inexplicable reasons, and that must decide which charging network you should belong to.
As the Department of Energy states on its website, slow charging is more or less standard with the plug type SAE J1772 (great name), but fast charging has not completely settled a a standard plug. Some vehicles have both common plug types – J1772 and CHAdeMO, and seriously who comes with these? – while others only have one. And there's a whole mess of third-party charging stations like EVGo, Electrify America and ChargePoint just to name a few. The easiest – and sometimes only – way to use these drives is to have an account with the company that runs them.
Then it is Tesla, which has its own proprietary plug that works with all Tesla chargers and CHAdeMO using an optional adapter. But what makes Tesla's charging network so popular is how the whole process of going to a charging station is integrated into the vehicle and the user experience. As mentioned above, Tesla's Superchargers tend to be in places where people didn't mind killing some time on long trips. In addition, charging rates are predictable and consistently high.
I don't think these problems with non-Tesla chargers are insurmountable. In fact, they have made great progress in recent years. Neither are particularly compelling reasons in my mind to avoid EVs, especially not for people who consider them as a city car where all the charging is to be done at home.
But these problems take some education and are used to . And for many people, it is enough to get them to control and stick to what they know. Fortunately, there is still time for all this to improve before the Ford EVs hit the market.