Written by Jon Ostrower, CNN
This story originally appeared on CNN
Electric cars are taking on a new role in the corporate playbook. The race to deploy charging infrastructure and reduce the number of local stops is now part of a corporate strategy to chase “demand charges”
These factors are due in part to the promotion of electric vehicles by many major automakers, with 2018 poised to be the largest year for sales in the US. But in this context, the commercial market presents an even more explosive opportunity.
In 2017, the market in North America was worth about $104 billion, including automotive dealerships, fleets, private individuals, import and luxury car dealerships, rental agencies, travel agencies, MRO companies, general contractors and retailers. The demand is there, the innovation underway and it’s just beginning to come to the forefront. Ford’s transformation into a mobility company under CEO Jim Hackett is a reflection of these trends.
“We’ve been a leader in mobility technologies for a very long time,” Brian Sueltz, vice president of electrification, told Business Insider in a recent interview. “We are very clear that it’s a vision for where the industry is going, where we want to be, the footprint we want to be in our electrification journey.”
Ford CEO Jim Hackett speaks at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States January 8, 2019. Credit: LAS VEGAS SUN/REUTERS
Soon, almost everything made by Ford will have a plug at its core, and the automaker already employs about 7,000 workers at different locations to power the electrification.
In January 2019, Ford will launch a dedicated team within its business unit focused exclusively on electric vehicles. Sueltz told Business Insider Ford would begin its comprehensive electric vehicle strategy with a vehicle that occupies a hub in the automaker’s roadmap.
Future General Motors cars could be equipped with similar systems that seamlessly plug electric vehicles into cars and commercial fleets. GM owns more than half of new-energy car technology company Cruise Automation.
According to Brian Sueltz, vice president of electrification, Ford will “soon” launch a dedicated team within its business unit focused exclusively on electric vehicles. Credit: Lee Celano/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock
The most recent strategic step to embrace electrification was Ford’s purchase of Emeryville, California, start-up The Waymo and its self-driving Waymo fleet of self-driving, electric vehicles, now called Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids.
With ambitious ambitions of a mass market with more than 1 million vehicles in the United States and global demand of at least 50 million electric vehicles per year in 2040, the incentives to invest in mobility go beyond corporations and profits.