By Ed Pierce, Contributing Editor
The first day of NTEA’s Work Truck Week got off to a notable start with the Ford Commercial Vehicles press conference, moderated by Philip Podgorny, Commercial and Government Sales General Manager, and Alex Purdy, Director of Business Operations, Enterprise Connectivity.
Podgorny began by noting that 100% of Ford commercial vehicles now included embedded modems with 4G LTE WiFi for up to 10 devices that unlock connectivity to Ford’s intelligent fleet management tools. “These services are already helping to improve driver behavior and bring electric vehicle data and charging solutions to our valued fleet customers.”
Non-Ford Fleet Vehicle Connectivity
Taking this feature one step further for 2021, Alex Purdy announced that the company is extending its industry-leading connectivity technology to include non-Ford vehicles while paving the way for an electric future.
“Since 2018, embedded modems in newer Fords and plug-in devices for the older models, have empowered fleet managers with intelligent insights across their vehicles and drivers, explains Purdy. “With the new all-make compatibility, these insights are now available fleet wide, regardless of vehicle make. Building on this momentum, we are making Ford telematics complimentary across our entire commercial vehicle range.
“Fleet managers can keep an eye on vehicle health and improve uptime from a distance with new prognostic information like recalls, engine hours, oil life remaining and slow tire leak. They can oversee driver behavior, compliance and safety, and severe incident notifications. A driver behavior dashboard with driver scores enables fleet managers to provide targeted coaching, to help improve driver behavior. Lastly, fleet customers have access to intelligent tools and fleet products like WEX fuel cost and in-vehicle coaching.”
EV Transformation Continues
The Ford presenters promised that Ford is already setting the stage for the electric transformation with fleet-wide energy monitoring, new electric charge management tools and EV specific fleet dashboards and a continued investment in electric and autonomous vehicles.
In line with the customization of data exchange and reporting to serve each customer’s business, Ford’s intelligent software management tools can be delivered to meet the preferred form and function of the customer.
Explains Purdy, “If a customer has their own in-house tools or a customer is already working with another telematics service provider, our data services API provides manufacturer grade data with no incremental modem cost. If they are looking for an integrated telematics platform with manufacturer grade data, Ford telematics is designed to provide clear, actionable insights.
“We are also adding new products to help drive productivity in a fleet’s operations. Our new Ford Telematics Essentials dashboard includes vehicle health information, including diagnostic trouble codes, recalls, engine hours and diesel signals, helps prevent damage to emissions equipment.”
OTA Vehicle Updates
According to Purdy, Ford is adding over-the-air update functionality into its vehicles starting with this year’s F-150. OTA capabilities mean that the latest features or updates can be delivered to a vehicle over the air, eliminating the need for a visit to the dealer for many forms of maintenance or even additional digital content, either delivered in the background, or scheduled by the driver.
He also noted Ford’s commitment to leadership in electrification and battery electric vehicles” “New fleet wide energy monitoring tools and vehicle management tools for business will be available through easy-to-use mobile and web-based applications, helping commercial fleets and businesses make a seamless transition to electric vehicles.
“We will offer services that are EV specific, including a telematics dashboard with unique real-time vehicle insights like battery range to empty, and key operating trends. Features such as preconditioning vehicles while on the charger to extend range, fleet manager alerts if a vehicle isn’t plugged in, a variety of charging solutions to fit fleet and driver needs will be supported with access to North America’s largest public charging network, providing drivers with seamless public payment capabilities and fleet managers with centralized invoicing and payment options.”
The Benefits of Fleet Electrification
“We have a clear vision on the future of our business,” said Podgorny. “Electrification is just good business for our customers, an all-electric vehicle acquires no gas usage and offers potentially lower scheduled maintenance costs.
“For example, scheduled maintenance costs for the E-Transit are estimated to be 40% less than the average scheduled maintenance costs for gas powered transit. And purchasing an all-electric vehicle may qualify for a federal tax incentive.
“We are bringing work-ready electric vehicles to all industries, not just last mile delivery. Our E-Transit will be arriving later this year and offer fleets a choice of three roof heights, three wheelbase lengths and choice of cargo cutaway and chassis cab variants, with a maximum payload capacity of 4,250 pounds.”
Podgorny concluded the NTEA presentation with a promise that Ford is just getting started in its EV efforts: “We have more all-electric products on the horizon and engineered for uptime, supported by fleet charging solutions for home, public and depot, including the largest public charging network in America with over 16,000 charging stations nationwide. In fact, our commercial vehicle center dealer network is already 92% EV-certified.”