The biggest hurdle for many of us considering an electric vehicle is range anxiety – the fear of running out of power before we get to our destination.
Fear not: Just about every EV these days has a 200-300 or more mile range between charges, plus there is a growing network of charging stations, and apps to help you find them.
Ford is investing millions into a high-tech charging system called the FordPass Charging Network, which it intends to be the largest and most efficient in the USA.
That’s to support $11.5 billion the company is investing in its electric vehicle program. The first two models are the EV version of the iconic Mustang, called the Mach-E, hitting the road in fall 2021, and the EV version of the equally iconic F-150, known as the Lightning, due in 2022.
“We want zero drama,” Darren Palmer, Ford’s global director of battery electric vehicle production development told me during a recent preview of the first-ever F-150 all-electric truck. “We want to make each journey effortless.”
Already, Ford has access to more than 12,000 public places to charge, with more than 35,000 charge plugs — more than any other automotive manufacturer, and more are being added daily. As with other EV manufacturers, the Ford network includes several charger brands.
“If a charging company is not in our network, there’s a reason,” he says.
It’s all connected by software sophisticated enough to report which one charging unit in a bank of them is slow or otherwise malfunctioning. Palmer demands that it be fixed within 24 hours or taken off-line entirely, including showing on the software as not available, until it’s working properly again.
“It’s really stressful” for a customer to hook up to a non-working charger. “We really want to avoid that,” he says.
The software is also smart enough to figure out whether you are in the middle of a trip and need a fast-charger, or parked overnight and the “regular” voltage is enough. That is for both the Mach-E and the Lightning.
Another Ford-only feature is the ability to reach a licensed and vetted electrician online if there’s a problem. That’s something else to include under the “drama free” category.
Every Ford EV will come standard with a Ford Mobile Charger. It’s capable of charging on a higher-voltage 240-volt electrical outlet, such as those often used for large household appliances like a clothes dryer, which can add an estimated range of 22 miles per charging hour. This is the system to use for overnight charging in your home garage.
You can also plug into a standard 120-volt electrical outlet, like the one you use for your hair dryer or to recharge your phone. But that provides only around of three miles per charging hour, or about 12 hours for 35 miles of range.
For longer trips, you can charge the battery from 10 percent to 80 percent full charge in just 45 minutes using an Electrify America DC fast charger. Such fast-chargers are popping up in highway rest stops and malls, making it easy to — er — refill your vehicle while you refill your stomach or shopping bag.
The Ford software also shows pricing estimates up front, so there are no costly surprises. You pay through FordPass app, including setting up your account to pay via tapping the vehicle’s info screen. That’s also less drama than other EV manufacturers, which require inputting your account on the recharging unit to activate it.
The app also provides real-time information, called Power My Trip, that tells you the current state of charge and where the next few charging points are.
You can set charging schedules and alerts at home, and what Ford calls “pre-condition,” which asks the vehicle to warm up in cold weather or turn on the air conditioner in hot weather, so it’s comfortable when you and the kids get in.
On the road, Ford is providing two years of free access to the FordPass Charging Network. That adds to the cost-saving for an EV, which includes up to $10,000 federal and state tax credits. So it’s sounding more and more like you’ll have to find an excuse other than range anxiety to avoid considering an electric vehicle.