Published July 30, 2012
By Philippe Crowe
Electric vehicles’ successes and wider adoption will come by building vehicles able to match the convenience and ease of use of conventional internal combustion engine cars.
Ford does understand this – as do most manufacturers – and took steps to help make life easier for owners of its Focus Electric and other models soon to launch.
One of these steps was to create MyFord Mobile, an app developed by Ford engineers that can be used with Ford Focus Electric and the soon-to-be-available C-MAX Energi and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrids. In addition to locating charging stations, the app allows customers to manage remote charging, view current battery status and plan trips.
The charging station locator is powered by MapQuest and provides details about charging stations in close proximity to the owner’s vehicle, such as street address and hours of operation.
Stations are popping up all over, too – from local grocery stores in Pittsburgh, churches in Austin, Texas, and hospitals in Portland to places like McDonald’s, Starbucks, Whole Foods, Walgreens, Target, Cracker Barrel and Walmart.
Up-to-date information is important because there are now 9,445 public stations in the U.S., according to current U.S. Department of Energy numbers. By comparison, there were about 2,500 public charging stations in the U.S. at the end of 2009.
Ford is tripling its electrified vehicle production capacity by 2013 with cars equipped with batteries that allow for quick charging at public charging stations.
Another step Ford took is to reduce as much as possible the time needed to reach a full charge.
The Focus Electric is equipped with a lithium-ion battery pack that can be fully charged in four hours.
The C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid – available this fall – will be able to recharge fully in two-and-a-half hours. The C-MAX Energi is expected to deliver 95 MPGe, along with 550 miles of total range.
An all-new Fusion Energi, also a plug-in hybrid, is in the pipeline as well.
Of course, public charging stations aren’t the only way electric and plug-in hybrids are charged.
J.R. DeShazo, director of UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation, says research shows charging a vehicle at home remains the most common method for charging. The center researches and reports on environmental and sustainability issues.
Ford has ensured customers who prefer to charge at home are able to do so by making available a 240-volt charger designed specifically for Ford vehicles and for use in a residential setting.
The availability of 240-volt chargers – public or private – is important because they allow for faster charging of the advanced lithium-ion batteries used in Ford’s newest electrified vehicles.