There’s always been talk about the “City of Tomorrow”. What will tomorrow look like? Heck, at one time we thought, thanks to the Jetsons, the City of Tomorrow would include flying cars. We are far away from that scenario and right now automakers like Ford are just trying to figure out the near future and where electrification fits into those plans.
That’s why Ford participated in the "It Takes a Village: The Price and Promise of Electrification” summit with Darren Palmer participating as a panelist. Palmer is Ford’s General Manager of battery electric vehicles.
Palmer talked up the F-150 Lightning which he says has the ability to power a home for up to 10 days without air conditioning or three days with AC being used in the home. But other panelists argued that more electrified vehicles on the road equal more infrastructure issues.
Prior to this summit, Ford surveyed city dwellers and asked them: “Do we have the infrastructure to support all the new services being deployed today — and do people really think electrified transportation can help cities fight pollution, become more livable, more efficient and less stressful to traverse?”
According to the survey, the answer was a resounding yes.
Related story: Comparing the F-150 Lightning to the Cybertruck.
Ways The F-150 Lightning Is Easing Power Grid
If there were hundreds of thousands of EV F-150s on the road, as there are currently internal combustion engine (ICE) trucks, what would that do to the grid?
With a mass heat wave in the Pacific Northwest causing numerous power issues and earlier this year the near grid meltdown in Texas from an ice storm it demonstrates that our nation’s infrastructure is tenuous at best. There’s been political battles in D.C. over these type of issues along with bridges and road repairs. Infrastructure is the buzz word as we emerge from a global pandemic.
And the truth of the matter is, more EVs will only exacerbate some of these infrastructure issues.
During the Summit, Palmer said: "The question was how can we make EVs more useful to the customers and infrastructures. They're a huge power source.”
Palmer went on to say that Ford’s vehicle-to-grid technology could help alleviate some of the stress of electrical grids.
Palmer said that in the future “Ford hopes it can also trigger vehicle charging to only be available at night, when less energy is being used, to supplement power to buildings with Ford bidirectional chargers and to be able to use F-150s and other compatible vehicles to power cities in emergency situations.”
Related story: Ford has more than 100,000 reservations for the F-150 Lightning.
Ways EVs Like The F-150 Lightning Could Hurt The Grid
One panelist on this summit, Karina Ricks, director of the Pittsburgh Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, pointed out that EVs like the F-150 Lightning weigh a lot more and as such contribute to the deterioration of our roads.
Most of our road repairs are funded through taxes on gasoline and fuel which EVs are exempt from. So using this premise, Ford’s EV future and the upcoming 2022 F-150 Lightning could actually contribute to the road and infrastructure disrepair quicker without helping pay for those repairs.
"EVs are heavy and can reduce the lifespan of a road from decades to only seven to eight years, so more road investment will be necessary. A primary source of funding for road repair and construction comes from the gas tax, which would be reduced with more electric vehicles on the road," Ricks said.
The Future Is Electric But What Does that Entail?
I often get asked about whether all cars will be electric in the future. I do believe that by the year 2035 or 2040 that the super majority of vehicles on our roads will be electric. I did write recently that the ICE vehicle wasn’t going away as quick as people are predicting and I stand by that.
There are a lot of reservations from the general consumer about EVs and many are justified concerns. And as we learned at the City of Tomorrow Summit, many experts have legitimate concerns too.
I do believe that auto manufacturers like Ford will try their best to be good contributors to society and adjustments and changes to their EV process and vehicles will inevitably evolve over time. Additionally this country’s entire electrical infrastructure has a lot of changes and investments that are needed. We’ve seen it as the weather changes either for the cold or the heat, that our system often buckles under the pressure.
What do you think about the ‘City of Tomorrow’? What will it look like? What are your concerns? Leave me your comments below.
Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.