Ford, Chasing Nissan and Chevy, Rolling Out Focus EV in San Diego, Other Key Markets
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developing and deploying its own charging infrastructure.
“The charging station industry is quickly and rapidly evolving,” Tinskey says. “One of the things that we’re seeing, just like you should see in any technology, is that faster and faster charging is going to be attractive.”
Where some of the first electric vehicles use a 3.3-kilowatt charger that takes about 8 hours to fully charge a depleted electric car, Tinskey says Ford has designed its electric Focus for a larger charger that is 6.6-kilowatts, meaning the pipe is twice as big. “So we charge in just over three hours from a completely depleted battery to fully charged. So we had to go off and find a charge station that can mount on a customer’s wall and provide that kind of power.”
After screening more than a dozen suppliers to develop a charging system for Ford electric vehicles, Tinskey says Ford selected Leviton, a Melville, NY-based electric parts supplier with a design shop about 23 miles south of San Diego, in Chula Vista, CA. “Those guys in Chula Vista are just incredible, they’ve got some great capabilities,” Tinskey said.
He adds that the Ford/Leviton EV charger will be the industry’s first 32-amp EV charger, which will require a 240-volt line and a 40-amp circuit. Tinskey says a key advantage of the Ford/Leviton charger is that it can be plugged into a standard 240-volt electric outlet, the type of outlet typically used for electric ovens and other major appliances.
The Society of Automotive Engineers has established standards for recharging plugs, making all electric vehicles designed for such “Level 2” charging systems compatible. Still, Ford maintains that the on-board charging capability of its system has been enhanced, enabling its EVs to soak up energy faster (from the same power sources) than its competitors. A Ford spokesman says, “That is what gives us the distinct advantage of half the charge time (due to the 6.6 KW charger on board the vehicle). In San Diego, those EV competitors include the Nissan Leaf, Coda EV, Prius plug-in, BMW Mini Cooper E, Chevrolet Volt, Tesla Roadster, Mitsubishi iMiEV, Aptera, Saturn VUE, BYD EV (China), and Think! EV.
Tinskey says other EV chargers are usually hard-wired into a residential or commercial power system, which means that homeowners won’t be able to take their chargers with them. That’s one reason why the Ford/Leviton charger and installation will be available for about $1,500 through Ford dealerships and Best Buy stores, Tinskey says, while other chargers with similar features are expected to cost about $2,000.
On the other hand, Tinskey says Ford EV owners in San Diego won’t be eligible for charging systems that San Francisco-based Ecotality is providing at no cost to Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt owners under a $115 million federal grant program. Ecotality began installing its chargers two months ago under the program, which provides total funding of $230 million (when matching funds from utilities, automakers, and others are included) for nearly 15,000 charging systems in 16 cities throughout California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Tennessee, Texas, and the District of Columbia.
“Our Ford customers will be eligible for similar installations in other cities,” Tinskey says. “I think we’re going to be pretty competitive, though, even without the grant.”
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