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3ThoughtThursday – Ford’s EV investment, net zero + transportation and commercial fleets

"This is our biggest opportunity for growth and value creation since Henry Ford started to scale the Model T, and we’re grabbing it with both hands.”

That’s what Jim Farley, President and CEO of Ford Motor Company, had to say about the company’s recent announcement of increased investments in the electric-vehicle (EV) market.

Let’s start off this week on that topic…

1. Ford commits to increased EV investment; electrifies the F-150

On Wednesday, Ford announced a plan that will increase the company’s investment in EVs to more than $30 billion (up from $22 billion announced previously). The plan also states that the company expects that 40% of its global sales will be EVs by the year 2030.

The All-Electric Ford F-150 Lightning (Credit: Ford)

The rollout of this plan follows last week’s unveiling of the “All-Electric Ford F-150 Lightning”. The iconic F-150 nameplate is now available as a fully-electric vehicle.

And it generated A LOT of interest! In only 48-hours more than 44,500 pre-sale reservations were placed for the vehicle that is set to hit dealerships next year at this time.

Combined, these announcements paint a very positive picture for the EV market globally. The EV future is no longer a probability, it is an inevitability. And our region (Bruce, Grey, Huron) has a critical role to play in ensuring that the fuel of the future is clean.

EVs powered by electricity produced from non-GHG emitting sources like nuclear, hydro and renewables are critical to decarbonizing our transportation sector.

As we continue to work toward a net zero economy, we’ll need to continue our efforts to reduce emissions in the transportation sector, which is the focus of our next thought…

2. The role of the transportation sector in getting to net zero

Earlier today, I had the opportunity to listen to a panel discussion on the role that the transportation sector will play in getting to net zero (a fitting discussion for the general theme of today’s blog post). The event featured representatives from energy research institutes as well as from Suncor Energy. Here are some the key takeaways from that discussion:

  • Canada’s clean energy advantages and clean grid present a significant opportunity to decarbonize transportation.

  • Opportunity for a Made-in-Canada approach – development of supply chains from critical minerals extraction to processing to manufacturing. But we need to act fast.

  • Turnover of the vehicle fleet is underway but there is more to be done to maintain this momentum. We need to focus on all types of vehicles – not just luxury passenger vehicles.

  • British Columbia and Quebec have been the provincial leaders in EV sales in Canada – due mostly to policy decisions made by the provincial governments in those provinces such as Zero-Emission Vehicles Sales Mandates.

  • Access to charging infrastructure will be critical to curb range anxiety and increase adoption of EVs.

3. Electrifying commercial trucking fleets

When we talk about the EV market, passenger vehicles (the vehicles that you and I drive every day) tend to take centre stage. And, as referenced in the first thought today, we’re seeing encouraging trends in that market.

But what about electrifying commercial fleets and getting more zero emission transport trucks on our roads? I recently read an interesting piece on this topic from Electric Autonomy Canada.

A couple of points made in this article were quite interesting.

First, when it comes to electrifying fleets, commercial fleets, in theory, should be easier to electrify than passenger vehicles. The article quotes Jessie Lund, Senior Associate at the Rocky Mountain Institute: “If we can reach this relatively small group of decision-makers as compared to every individual who’s making a car purchase, there is a huge opportunity.”

Second, the article examined the number of commercial vehicle manufacturers that are offering electric freight vehicles. The article states that:

“In 2020, there were roughly 70 electric freight vehicles from 24 companies available in North America, ranging in size… In 2021, that number is expected to leap to 85 models offered by over 30 different companies.”

And, these companies include some of the most iconic freight brands such as Kenworth Peterbilt.

With a relatively small number of purchasers to convince and an increasing number of options to choose from, there is certainly a lot of opportunity for commercial fleets to electrify.


Chad Richards is the Director of the Clean Energy Frontier.


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