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Don’t worry, I don’t expect you to trade the V8 in your commuter for an electric drive unit. But I do expect that almost all new fleet vehicles in the U.S. will be electric–in the very near future. And Ford’s new Pro division is gambling on it.

EVs make excellent fleet vehicles

The rear bumpers of an electric F-150 and Ford Transit van both plugged into a charger.
Ford F-150 Lightning and e-Transit | Ford Pro

Electric vehicles still have major shortcomings. Building long range variants requires large lithium-ion batteries that are expensive and heavy. Even short range EVs can be 40% more expensive than comparable ICE vehicles.

But even this first generation of EVs has its strengths too. They cost much less per mile to operate. Why? Because they have a fraction of the moving parts that an ICE vehicle has, so maintenance is cheaper. This also translates to less downtime and a much longer lifespan. “Fuel” is much less expensive if you charge them at home. Batteries will wear out eventually, but a vehicle with a set daily mileage and a smart charger will have the longest possible batter span. And that could be hundreds of thousands of miles.

The way electric motors work they have maximum torque at zero rpm. Add in regenerative braking and stop-and-go driving is not nearly as destructive as it is to an ICE vehicle. Finally, they couldn’t care less about the number of on/off cycles.

All-told, EVs are perfect for most fleet vehicle applications. The obvious exception is long distance hauling. In fact, I suspect the Tesla Semi truck can’t haul anything heavier than potato chips for more than 100 miles. But converting to EVs for local delivery vehicles, repair fleets, or even police patrols could save a ton of cash. New York City has already committed to trading out all its municipal vehicles–including cruisers–for EVs.

Ford sees the writing on the wall. It recently reorganized Ford Motor Company into three different businesses, one of which is Ford Pro. While Chevrolet is still putting off the Silverado EV production, and Ram has yet to start building its REV truck, the F-150 Lightning is already more plentiful than any electric truck. And Ford just doubled its Lightning production capacity. Ford is also building the E-Transit van in eight different configurations. And it is doing something else.

Ford’s giving away chargers to fleet owners

Silver Ford F-150 Pro parked at a construction site, its frunk open to charge tools.
2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Pro | Ford Motor Co

Ford Pro just announced it’s partnering with the Xcel energy utility to give 30,000 EV chargers away to fleet operators by 2030. This is a neat partnership that, hopefully, can save some business owners a bit of money. But nothing about it is especially revolutionary.

Many states have utility companies that offer free or discounted EV chargers. The catch is that these companies reserve the right to monitor your electricity use or even shut your charger off during absolute peak hours. In the case of Xcel, it is just looking for usage data, so fleet owners can rest assured the free Ford Pro chargers won’t randomly shut off.

Xcel is introducing the program in Colorado and Wisconsin. But it also serves Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Texas and hopes to expand the program as soon as regulators give it the green light. I’m sure Xcel hopes the program gets fleet owners to try EVs, realize how cheap they can be, and then buy more electricity. For Ford’s part, I’m sure it just wants to get fleet owners into EVs as soon as possible.

Whether they choose to take Ford/Xcel up on a free charger or not, I expect most fleet vehicle operators will crunch the numbers and begin buying EVs in the next few years. As more of them report cost savings, fleet operators who answer to shareholders or taxpayers may be unable to justify not going electric. Sooner rather than later, most blue collar folks who drive for work will do so in an EV.

Next, read about the Detroit concept truck that is the final nail in the coffin for the internal combustion pickup, or review of the Ford F-150 Lightning Pro trim in the video below: