Today, Ford Motor Company announced a partnership with GE through which it will install electric vehicle charging stations at more than 60 of its offices, product development campuses and manufacturing facilities across the US and Canada. In a Google hangout hosted today by Triple Pundit, Ford's Director of Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure, Mike Tinskey, said the initiative will begin this month with the installation of the GE WattStation at Ford's headquarters in Michigan.
“We know that a growing electrified vehicle infrastructure is key to making plug-in vehicles a viable option for more consumers. Ford is committed to doing its part to help develop that infrastructure,” Tinskey said.
The service will be free to employees for the first four hours of charging each day. Ford estimates it will cost about 50 cents to fully charge each vehicle.
“Our hypothesis is that if our employees are driving those type of electric vehicles (hybrid) and their commute is more than 21 miles a day, we can actually give another opportunity to charge during the day — and get all of their Monday through Friday driving on electricity and electricity alone. And we really think if that hypothesis is true, it's gonna go a long way and we are likely to see other employers across the nation embrace the same type of concept,” said Tinskey,
Tinskey said the Ford-GE initiative differs from other workplace charging options in that the stations will be networked to gather data on usage and plan for future installations. The company is also urging employees to use the MyFord® Mobile smartphone app to collect driving and charging information, which will help Ford understand driving patterns and potentially influence future product design. “We'll be able to see all the station usage and when we start hitting a capacity constraint, we'll be able to flag that particular location and expand accordingly,” Tinskey explained.
Ford has said it considers analytics and big data the next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity. The company continues to expand its use of big data as more and better technologies, methodologies and datasets emerge, and this latest method of collecting data is a great example.
Earlier this month, GE renewed its ecomagination commitment to find technological solutions to save money and reduce environmental impact, including an additional $10 billion to reach a total investment of $25 billion in R&D by 2020. GE says the new investment will advance research in natural gas, power plants and renewables.