As further evidence of the decline of the fossil fuel era, the Ford Motor Company announced last week that it was building the largest network of electric vehicle chargers in the United States, taking the title from EV leader Tesla. This may seem like an odd move to some people; the company is ranked second in the US for sales and has shown growth and profitability for close to 10 years. More importantly, the company doesn’t even offer any EVs in its current product lineup.
It is, however, part of what appears to be larger plan for Ford. In addition to announcing its mustang based crossover EV, and a working prototype EV F150 pickup truck, The company recently acquired a large stake in Rivian, a small start-up focussed on designing and building an electric light truck platform that may be used in a variety of passenger and utility configurations. Rivian made a big splash when it announced an order for 100,000 delivery vehicles to be delivered to Amazon by 2040. Considering the fact that the Ford F-Series truck is the best selling vehicle in the US and has been for the past 36 years, the company will likely want to be very well positioned for the inevitable shift toward EV pickups. Access to Rivian’s technology will probably provide a means to this end.
Ford’s investment in Rivian, plus their 2018 announcement of the intention to offer 16 fully electric vehicles and 40 electrified vehicles through 2022, makes the car company’s direction a little more obvious.
Ford also made big claims of a fully autonomous car to in commercial use by 2021. A bold statement indeed, but one that might actually be achievable just based on the strength of the company and the resources available to it. Considering the fact that other, smaller companies have been making great inroads into autonomous vehicles, the auto giant might just make an announcement of an acquisition of one of these companies and apply the technology to a platform based on the Rivian truck. The use of EV delivery vehicles has long been touted as a logical use of the technology considering the fact that many of the routes these vehicles drive each day are predetermined. Knowing the daily use is critical to commercial use of EV’s. Further, the routes are often in urban areas where air quality is a big issue and charging infrastructure is easily made available.
Regardless of the autonomous vehicles, it is obvious that EVs are going to become a large part of the Ford product line very soon. The fact that the company is investing so heavily in this direction gives hope that maybe the large corporations are finally seeing the light and that others will soon follow their lead.
In other top Happy Eco News stories, a scientist in India has developed an algae based water treatment plant that is designed to be affordable and user maintained in poorer regions of the world. Another group of researchers created an algae based form of carbon fibre that is stronger than steel, lightweight and provides long terms carbon sequestration. An economic study by the Pembina Institute finds that renewable energy production provides lower costs and is cheaper than traditional fossil fuel power generation – even in areas that are traditionally considered “oil country” and last but not least, a list of 2019 environmental wins based on keeping fossil fuels in the ground.