Ford pushing for Electric Vehicle preparation in U.S. cities

Considering infrastructure development an essential part of making electric vehicles a viable option, Ford is cooperating with major cities and utility partners to identify key infrastructure elements that will create enriched metropolitan habitats enabling the widespread use of this new type of car.

Ford is preparing to launch the Focus Electric this year and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid in 2012. Meanwhile, major U.S. cities are also preparing the new electric vehicles.

Key actions Ford has prioritized in working with cities and utility partners include:

• Creating a utility rate structure that encourages "off-peak" or nighttime charging to lessen and more evenly distribute demand on the grid.

• Streamlining the permit and inspection process in support of customer and commercial EV station installation.

• Integrating advisory EV committees with representatives from electric utilities, manufacturers, dealers, municipalities, customers and local coalitions.

• An urban planning approach to optimizing placement of public/commercial EV charging locations.

• Creating incentives that offset part of customer costs for installation of charging stations.

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"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, Ford's manager of Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure. "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."

The list of metropolitan areas that are stepping up their EV preparations include Atlanta, Austin TX, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte NC, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando FL, Phoenix, Portland OR, Raleigh NC, Richmond, VA, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

"Our electric grid has plenty of capacity to support electric transportation. The key for local utilities is to offer incentives so EV customers are encouraged to charge during the nighttime hours when plenty of capacity is available," he continued. "Additionally, at a local level, we are encouraged many cities are taking an urban planning approach to public charge station locations – which will result in locations that are used more often and an efficient use of investment dollars. The best cities are learning from others and taking a best practices approach."

We asked Dan Pierce, Manager of Sustainability Communications, why Ford considers this process so important?

“From Ford’s perspective, electrification is part of our overall sustainability strategy, which really focuses on producing cleaner environmentally friendly vehicles, but also vehicles that use less gasoline and provide higher mpgs and we feel there is a variety of ways to achieve that,” he replied. “There’s no one vehicle or vehicle technology that’s going to solve the world’s problems, so really Ford’s focus is working on a variety of solutions and the electrification of vehicles is one option and one we see as being an answer – whether it’s a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or plug-in electric vehicle.

Ford will launch five electrified vehicles in the U.S. by next year and in Europe by 2013.