Dealers, malls, restaurants should provide EV chargers

Yusin Hu, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Ford Motor Company is asking its dealers in North America to implement the Model E program, which requires dealers selling electric vehicles to invest in installing fast chargers in the store, resulting in a divergence between the two sides.

CEO Jim Farley addressed the revamp plan in the latest earnings call saying the company has "shared the new electric customer standards with all North America dealers", and the revamp means "a single, simple e-commerce platform, ultra-low vehicle-finished inventory, non-negotiated pricing and fast charges at all dealer shops".

The Model E program requires a minimum investment of around US$500,000 to install DC fast chargers. Dealers wishing to sell an unlimited number of EVs will be required to install at least 2-3 DC fast chargers by 2026, bringing the total investment of revamp to US$900,000 to $US1.2 million, according to the Drive.

While the world has seemed to be shifting definitely to EVs from gas-powered vehicles, installing charging infrastructures could be expensive and complicated. Once the chargers get a high-level of utilization, there could be a serious impact on the electrical, so building the charging infrastructures should be followed by a wave necessary of battery mitigation and storage solutions, said Mark LaNeve, the former executive of Ford and General Motors, now chairman of the Franchise Equity Partners and president of the Charge Enterprises, at the Autonews Live Chat on October 28.

Dealers providing fast chargers might solve drivers' range anxiety. EV drivers need to know where they can find chargers like they used to know where to find gas stations. However, LaNeve added that although the dealers and OEMs are trying to work together to provide part of the solution, there is going to need huge government support and government working with private investment to get the kind of coverage for charging infra to eliminate the range anxiety.

He cited statistics as saying that only about half the vehicles in the US are in the garage at any given night, and lots of Americans do not have a garage for home charging. There will be millions of EVs that are not going to get charged at night.

To increase public access to charging, LaNeve said not just dealers, but also commercial office space, residential condos, apartments, and complexes, grocery stores, health clubs, fast food restaurants, big box retailers should they think about how to provide services and amenities like charging that will make customers happy.

DC chargers are expensive, and it is going to take a while where the economics makes sense, so there is space for government to step in and bridge the economic gap of utilization to production of EVs. But good dealers always adjust, said LaNeve.