It’s 2021, and the EV industry is no longer a science project or a fad. Ford’s recent acquisition of Electriphi is a perfect example of how the EV ecosystem is reaching maturity. I’ve never been in any other business except EVs—I went straight from my mechanical engineering degree to working on a Master’s in hybrid vehicle technology. At that time, automotive companies were nurturing the fledgling electric vehicle transformation. Starting in the late 1990s, Ford and General Motors planted the seeds of that effort, trading off every three years to run hybrid and electric vehicle design competitions as their way of developing University talent and building a next-generation workforce for the automotive industry.
For me, it really comes down to this: we simplify. Electriphi’s transition into Ford Pro Charging is allowing us to offer advanced, mature, total EV solutions for fleets that are easy to adopt. I like to call it our “Big Blue Easy Button.” All customers have to do to launch their electrified transition is to engage with us—but what we do, the inner workings of the Easy Button, is complex.
What was fun about evolving the business of Electriphi into the end-to-end offering it has become is that with Ford Pro Charging we don't have to assemble EV infrastructure for our customers piecemeal. As the experts in charging infrastructure, software, and services, we are in the perfect position to be the purveyors of a complete EV solution. We don’t simply play the matchmaker role between disparate parts. Instead we’re a full turn-key solution provider. From the customer perspective, a single point of entry into an EV fleet is appealing, but it’s the complexity behind the button that makes us powerful.
What’s Behind the Big Blue Easy Button
Let's think of the management of an EV fleet as a service engagement with a business. The “end-to-end solution” provides certainty and has value to organizations. It decouples the risk of trying to do too many things at once and positions us as a way to extend their business.
Ford has been building vehicles for 118 years, and today has the dominant market share of the commercial segment. That's the first element of the Big Blue Easy Button.
The second element is infrastructure. Fleet charging needs are dramatically different relative to consumer charging. We’re no longer talking about the kind of chargers found in residential garages, retail or even the kind that's installed at the public library. What we are looking at is the next decade of commercial electric vehicles. This is a whole different world, with chargers designed and supplied specifically for fleet applications, and requiring planning and coordination with those public networks, home and depot charging stations.
Telematics is the third element of the inner workings of our Easy Button, which means having vehicles that are connected securely, consistently, and reliably to our backend services. All of this is what we manage, maintain, and optimize so that our customers can focus on their core business.
Another essential element is service, using software and networking to ensure all the pieces of the EV solution are performing as expected. Not just today but over time, as we increasingly move, as our CEO says, “from oil to electrons.”
These elements must also be cost-effective for businesses to operate. That's when the last element comes in: financing. The first car I ever bought on my own was a Ford Mustang that I financed through Ford Motor Credit - the same organization that's been around helping young high school graduates get their first car, as well as business owners operate their fleets.
The Big Blue Easy Button is our solution that helps businesses of all sizes decarbonize their transportation.
From Model T to E-Transit, and beyond
Very soon, we will be there for the first recipients of the first commercial electric vehicle from Ford motor company, the E-Transit. A year from now, I see us building on all that early progress and getting more and more customers to use the Big Blue Easy Button from Ford Pro Charging, making the inner complexity of what we do more invisible to the consumer.
This is, in some ways, as impactful as the Model T rolling off the Assembly line for the first time, or the popular muscle cars in the 60s, including one of the fastest-selling cars ever, the Ford Mustang. I’m excited to be part of this evolution, never realizing when I started out in this industry that I’d be part of such a transformative milestone in industrial and technological history.