It’s no question that electric cars are hot right now. The world’s biggest automotive manufacturers have become better and better at mass-producing cars with batteries as power units instead of internal combustion engines. This has led to an influx of affordable options like the Nissan Leaf and Mazda MX-30 coming to market. But one question remains – when enough cars are eventually built for everyone, will consumers make the switch? The data says yes, the interest is there, with projections showing that 2022 sales of electric vehicles will nearly double in the United States.
The industry expectation is that the businesses themselves will become the earliest adopters en masse if the recent behaviors of larger automotive companies like Ford are any sort of indicator. This sentiment comes from the idea that businesses that rely heavily on fleets of cars and trucks for their daily operations see electric alternatives as attractive long-term capital investments, while the generally higher prices often put consumers off. And while sustainability is undoubtedly a factor for businesses, both from an environmental and optics standpoint, Ford sees data as the main driver for this burgeoning interest.
Information is a common thread of electric cars. Because the industry is in its infancy, most models come with the benefit of being developed and prototyped amid the data age. Humans in the last decade have become obsessed with the Internet of Things or the idea that nearly every tool or device commonly used today will have some sort of wireless connectivity and data collection apparatus to improve the user’s overall quality of life. Electric cars are no different, and the prospect of data tracking for the efficient deployment of automotive fleets is an attractive one for many businesses.
A recent announcement by Ford unveiled the “Ford Pro Intelligence” platform to capitalize on this need. The automaker describes it as a piece of cloud-based software that will allow businesses to track their vehicles in various metrics, including a centralized system for keeping tabs on usage and energy levels of the fleet as a whole. “The biggest pain point we hear from commercial customers when it comes to managing their fleets is not having a single place to access all of their information across vehicles and services,” said Ted Cannis, CEO of the Ford Pro division.
The system is already being tested in Sonoma County, CA, with businesses expecting a 20 percent reduction in overall operating costs due to the installation. The move looks to be a substantial financial driver for Ford, which already has nearly half of the domestic commercial vehicle market. As orders for the company’s E-Transit vans and F-150 Lightning trucks continue to skyrocket, one must wonder what the future holds for the century-old automotive icon. “This is our biggest opportunity for growth and value creation since Henry Ford started to scale the Model T,” said Jim Farley, Ford CEO. “Our ambition is to lead the electric revolution.”