Be prepared: It’s the motto of the Boy Scouts, but it seems fairly apropos for metropolitan areas when it comes to accommodating the volume of new electric vehicles on the horizon. And that is exactly why Ford is working with cities around the country to identify ways to prepare for the plug-in vehicles, such as the Focus Electric later this year.
“As more and more electric vehicles come to market, it’s incredibly important that cities develop action plans, including infrastructure development and permitting solutions, to ensure these vehicles are a viable solution for citizens,” said Mike Tinskey, the Ford Manager of Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure.
While the existing electric grid has plenty of capacity to support electric vehicles, the key for local utilities will be to offer incentives so customers will charge at night or off-peak times to minimize demand on the grid. There also will need to be an urban planning approach to optimize public/commercial electric vehicle charge locations, meaning they would be used often and be an efficient use of investment dollars. Ford has been encouraged by specialized approaches some cities are taking to support electric vehicles. For example, Boston, New York City and Philadelphia are looking into opportunities to promote travel between the cities by electric vehicle. Additionally, each city is hiring an electric vehicle policy coordinator to help improve efficiency of the permitting processes.
Other proactive steps Ford has identified with cities and utility partners are a streamlined permitting and inspection process to support customer and commercial electric vehicle infrastructure installation, and integrated advisory committees with participation from electric utilities, vehicle manufacturers and dealers, municipalities, electric vehicle customers and local coalitions.
Other metropolitan areas working with Ford in electric vehicle preparation are Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle, as well as Sacramento, CA; Hartford, CT; Charlotte and Raleigh, NC; and Richmond, VA. “Ford continues outreach with cities across the country to spread best practices and work with multiple partners including local utilities, auto manufacturers, technology companies and others to support a successful integration of electric vehicles,” Mike added.
Offering a range of electrified vehicles allows Ford to meet a variety of consumer driving needs; electrification is also an important element in the overall product sustainability strategy. Ford launched the Transit Connect Electric small commercial van in 2010 and will follow that with five electrified vehicles in North America by 2012 and Europe by 2013, including the C-MAX Hybrid, a second next-generation lithium-ion battery hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid.