Ford Adds Workplace Charging: Now It's Marketing Time

By · September 17, 2013

Charging the Focus

The Focus Electric is one car employees will be able to charge at the workplace. Meanwhile, the Focus could use a marketing push. (Ford photo)

Ford is bringing electric vehicles closer to home, adding 200 workplace chargers at 50 of its locations, including manufacturing plants in North America, sales offices, headquarters buildings and product development campuses. The new chargers complement 1,700 already at dealerships and other facilities in North America. Installation begins this year and continues into 2014.

According to Mike Tinskey, Ford’s director of electrification infrastructure, the chargers will be free to employees for the first four hours of operation, after which they’ll be expected to move and let someone else plug in. The free juice is said to save employees up to $2 a day.

They're Plugging In

Ford’s internal research, Tinskey said, shows that people driving the company’s plug-in hybrids, the C-Max and Fusion Energi models, are taking three of four trips (averaging approximately 13 miles per journey) in all-electric mode. “Charging at the workplace is the right place to put it,” he said. “Our employees can charge at work, and then they can make all of their miles traveled in electric mode.”

The chargers are networked together, and Ford will use the workplace project to gather data about company-wide carbon dioxide reduction and the number of hours employees are charging.

“We’re on the leading edge of a trend for corporations to do this in the workplace,” said Ford’s Todd Nissen.

So far, approximately 900 Ford dealers have been certified to sell electric cars, but the effort is still gearing up. The company started off in slow motion with U.S. electric sales, particularly of the Focus Electric. With a $4,000 price cut (to $35,995), the car is doing better, with 175 sold in August (versus just 34 sold in the same month in 2012). Last month’s resultsare better than those for Chevy’s Spark EV, which had sales of 102 in August. The Ford plug-in hybrids are each selling about 600 a month, together still less than the plug-in Prius.

C-Max Energi

Ford's C-Max Energi is off the show stands now: it sold 621 in August. (Jim Motavalli photo)

But Tinskey is still able to say that Ford had “a good month” for electrics in August. By my count, total U.S. plug-in sales were 1,396. The company’s doing much better with regular hybrids, moving 6,105 of those.

There has been progress, and Ford said its EV sales are up 288 percent compared to last August. “We’re now selling the electrified vehicles at the same rate we’re selling our other products,” Tinskey said. “A year ago, that was four percent of our sales, but now it’s 14 or 15 percent. And much of our business is coming from other companies, particularly Toyota.”

A Marketing Push

Still, it might make sense for Ford to launch a new promotional blitz on its electric cars, an effort that could complement worthy efforts like internal workplace charging. The Focus Electric benefits from the price drop, but its lease price is still $100 a month higher than many comparable EVs such as the Nissan LEAF (with a healthy 2,420 sold in August).

Ford is commendably committed to electrifying the fleet, and the will is there from the top down. The culture is there, thanks in part to Bill Ford, who was a lonely voice for EVs and hybrids in the 1990s. The carmaker has had low expectations for the Focus, but it’s a good car and—like the rest of the plug-in fleet—would benefit from a concerted marketing effort.

Comments

· · 4 years ago

Its a shame these car companies produce a half ass product and expect it to sell. Forget tha marketing campaign and do as GM and send out a press release new car longer range (200 miles) and around $30,000 try to compete with Tesla.

· · 4 years ago

@jah

Not to knock what other people buy, but, since I have a bias against ford products (my first new car was a 1980 Mercury Zephyr (ford fairmont with 4 headlights) that burned out its 4 cyl engine in 60,000 miles since I like a dope followed the owner's manual religiously, which said to change the oil every 10,000 miles. I mistakenly assumed that there was some new coating on the pistons that allowed for this great technology advance, but when the engine crapped out someone finally told me that the 10,000 mile interval was decided upon by the Marketing Dept!!, also my next door neighbor when I was a kid bought a '65 station wagon but the thing fell apart at such an accelerated rate that he dumped the car by '67), A ford has to be something really special for me to buy it. I also hate Microsoft products and that Creep Bill Gates (who now wants to solve (his perceived) Africa overpopulation problem with vaccines - that's not a misprint, I heard him say that out of his own lips), so the fact that most fords have microsoft based My Ford Touch is the icing on the cake.

The Ford Focus I guess some people are happy with, but really, a compact car with limited range and a smaller than normal trunk at a premium price? Well, Maybe.

But this makes Ford just a Me Too car company. Currently, no one is building a Big Luxury EV. Tesla comes close with the "s" and future "x" due to efficient space utilization (I'm guessing its about the size of an Impala), but since Via has fallen into the truck niche there's plenty of places where Ford could have the market all to itself, like converting a Big Mercury , or making a sporty Cougar or Thunderbird EV, (since the Roadster isn't made by either Tesla nor Detroit Electric yet), oh but oops! Cougars and Thunderbirds stopped being sporty years ago, and they discontinued the Entire Mercury Division anyways. And now they wonder why those plain jane 'me too' Lincoln's aren't selling? Geniuses.

· · 4 years ago

Nice to see Ford practicing what it preaches. But show the Focus Electric some love, Ford. Come out with a 2014/2015 MY Focus Electric with some improvements.

· · 4 years ago

Yeah, I ate at a restaurant once years ago and got sick, and even though it's changed hands several times since then, I'll never go back to that place, and I tell everyone not to eat there.

· · 4 years ago

I used to believe in Ford's approach with the Focus - build the car the same and at the last minute, plop in the desired powertrain. To an extent, I still do. But VW is schooling Ford on the execution. Ford decided to eat up half the trunk with a battery. VW molded the battery to fit the space formerly occupied by the exhaust system/gas tank.

http://www.plugincars.com/volkswagen-2014-e-golf-given-frankfurt-128236....

I really hope Ford figures out their mistake. Overall, the Focus is a nice package - good looking car, drives well, and feel more refined than the Leaf. But the lack of a useable trunk makes it a non-starter for me and many others. There are similar issues with the Energi cars, especially when they sit next to the (non-plug-in) Hybrid versions with full trunks...

· · 4 years ago

@Fred Bellows

Hasn't changed hands, (Bill Ford is still around), and the Ford Foundation is the same as always.

Plus I can't get excited about any of their current offerings...

Guys like the F-150, but i'm not a truck guy.

· · 4 years ago

@Bill,

F-150 might be a decent truck from an appareance, but its quality and durability is still questionable. My father in law is a die hard Ford fan. But his 2008 F-150 had a major transmission repair around 25k miles under warranty, but now after 78k miles, the same problem came back but now it is out of warranty.. since he loves Ford so much, he bought a Ford Explorer which has various SW bugs since day one...

Other co-workers of mine are cursing Ford out for its famous 5.0L diesel that crap out...

But people still buy it.

· · 4 years ago

@jah - Ford's products appearance and quality has increased drastically over the past 10years IMO. I personally love the C-Max hybrid/energi, I would of purcahsed the vehicle in the Energi line however both the Fusion and C-Max have no trunk/cargo room in their Energi versions. With 2 dogs and frequent road trips i needed the space. But this is not the reason they are horrible or bad cars. Their reliability and efficiency are very high when it comes to Ford. Like Bill said, not all cars meet everyones needs/standards...maybe you rather have a chevy or dodge for an american car, or any of the many imported brands... we have lots of options.

------ back on topic -----

Ford pushing charging infrastructure at their places of business including dealerships is awesome, I believe they should have the L2 EVSE's installed even if they do not currently sell the vehicles or if no employee has a Plug-In/EV (yet). It definately does promote the technology and ability for somone to adopt the lifestyle when the power is easily available. +1 Ford

· · 4 years ago

Ford Focus EV boot space:
http://www.electricownersclub.com/images/focus-electric-boot-space.jpg

E-Golf boot space:
http://www.livelifedrive.com/malaysia/galleries/view/1830/11/2013-vw-e-g...

Ford may be talking the talk on electric cars, but they need to spend a few billion on redesigning their chassis line ups to walk the walk.

Ford's efforts look more like something from a back street chop shop than something a major manufacturer would wish to put its logo on.

Unlike GM they are simply not at the races.

· · 4 years ago

Focus and Fusion Energi are basically compliance cars, and some can say C-Max Energi is as well.... I agree they need to redesign the battery location for the vehicles but they are right now seens as selling well. Improvements are needed to support larger cargo capacity...id jump on a C-Max Energi in a second.

· · 3 years ago

Focus Electric has limitations, as noted. But also has enough advantages that we drive it far more often than our reliable old Honda Civic: much cheaper "fuel" cost per mile, better pickup, much lower maintenance (just keep air in the tires, essentially), access to "car pool" lane during commute times, ... and enough trunk space for all the groceries we ever buy in one trip. (No, I have no connection to Ford, and never owned one before.)

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