Ford (F 3.89%) said that it will offer buyers of its future electric vehicles easy access to a network of over 12,000 charging stations -- and it will partner with Amazon.com (AMZN 3.66%) to offer installation of at-home charging outlets to those owners.
The news comes as Ford prepares to reveal its first long-range battery-electric vehicle (BEV), likely at next month's Los Angeles Auto Show. Here's what we know.
What Ford said: Aiming to make recharging simple
The plan to simplify charging access for its future BEV customers has two parts. First, home charging:
- All BEV Fords will come standard with a Ford Mobile Charger. When plugged into a 240-volt outlet, it can add 22 miles of range per charging hour. In a pinch, it can use a standard 120-volt outlet to add about 3 miles of range per charging hour.
- Ford's Connected Charge Station, a 48-amp home unit that can add 32 miles of range per charging hour, will be available as an option.
- The company has teamed up with Amazon Home Services to offer its customers installation of 240-volt outlets and the Connected Charge Station. (Amazon will provide an estimate and send a vetted electrician to do the work, but the customer is still responsible for the bill.)
Second, Ford will provide its BEV customers with two years of free access to an app called the FordPass Charging Network, which will include expedited use of "more than 12,000 charging stations with more than 35,000 plugs," the company said.
That will include Electrify America's fast-growing network, which will give customers access to DC Fast chargers. Ford said that a 150-kilowatt DC Fast charger will be able to add about 47 miles of range to its BEVs in 10 minutes, and to recharge from 10 percent to 80 percent in 45 minutes.
The automaker said it has also teamed up with Greenlots to find and bring other charging providers into its new network over time. Greenlots, a Royal Dutch Shell company, works to develop and map electric-vehicle charging stations.
Is Ford offering free charging?
Although access to the FordPass Charging Network app is free for two years, a company spokesperson said that the network won't provide free charging. The idea is to simplify finding a charging station and paying for a charge with a big network that can be accessed with a single app.
Why Ford is announcing this now: The Mach E is coming soon
Ford has said that it will begin production of its first-ever long-range BEV next year. That BEV, a "Mustang-inspired" high-performance crossover SUV that might be called the Mach E, is expected to debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show next month.
The company has said that the Mach E (or whatever it's called) will have at least 300 miles of real-world range along with "thrilling performance" and "Mustang-inspired" styling. I expect it to be a dual-motor design with a big battery and a surprisingly low starting price, perhaps as low as $40,000.
Ford is following Tesla's example here
I don't know whether Ford had the upcoming Tesla (TSLA 7.33%) compact SUV, the Model Y, in mind when it first began development of the Mach E. But Tesla's example helps explain why Ford is rolling out the FordPass Charging Network now.
Tesla's Supercharger network has helped overcome many buyers' concerns about the hassles of recharging. I think Ford's goal here is to be able to tell its customers that its own recharging network is also extensive and simple to use -- and to encourage home charging by making installation of home chargers as simple as possible as well.
It's a very Ford approach, and -- assuming that it all works seamlessly -- it should help persuade buyers to try its new BEVs. That's promising news for Ford investors who might be concerned about the company's ability to compete with Tesla and other new EV entrants.
We'll know more when we see the first of its new BEVs, likely in Los Angeles next month.