By Sam Eifling
April 10, 2014
Henry Ford famously paid his rank-and-file workers a generous enough wage ($5 a day) for them to afford the Model Ts they were assembling, partly on the premise that they would make loyal customers.
An echo of that thinking colors Ford Motor Co.'s announcement that it will install electric vehicle charging stations at nearly all of its offices, its development sites and its manufacturing plants in Canada and the United States. As Planetsave writes, more than 60 locations will have GE WattStation charging stations where Ford employees will get four hours a day of free juice.
The move gives Ford a dedicated sample of drivers from which to track car usage (via an app the company is encouraging employees to download). It also enables them to encourage the market for their own products.
"We know that a growing electrified vehicle infrastructure is key to making plug-in vehicles a viable option for more consumers," Mike Tinskey, Ford's director of vehicle electrification and infrastructure, said in a news release. "Ford is committed to doing its part to help develop that infrastructure."
It's not Tesla or Nissan, but Ford doesn't do badly in EVs. The company makes three plug-in EVs: the C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi, both hybrids that can run 21 miles on electricity before switching over to gas; and the fully electric Focus Electric. In 2013 Ford sold almost 15,000 of the three models — a total that would, combined, overtake the Toyota Prius PHV as the world's fourth-best-selling EV. Through the first three months of 2014, Ford sold 4,250 of its models, a total that again, if combined, would trail only Nissan's Leaf as the top-selling EV in that period.
Ford now counts more than 20,000 public charging stations in North America, up nearly sevenfold in five years. So what, after all, are 60 more? Perhaps symbolic, perhaps more. As Ford removes barriers for its employees in Canada and the States to adopt the vehicles, everyone in the company — from assembly workers to designers to marketers — can inch closer to buying an EV, and thus, thinking in more concrete terms like EV owners. It also amounts to a powerful statement for the brand: Wherever plug-in EV drivers sees a Ford facility, they'll know a charging station is handy.
Photo Credit: Automotive Rhythms