DETROIT (Jan. 19, 2011) — Ford Motor Co. is looking beyond its own electrical-vehicle infrastructure as it prepares to begin sales of its first electric cars this year.
The Dearborn, Mich.-based auto maker has developed a home recharging unit—housed in plastic with 60 percent post-consumer recycled content—and teamed with a national home electronics chain store for its installation.
“We view this as a part of the vehicle,” said Mike Tinskey, manager of vehicle electrification and infrastructure for Ford, during a Jan. 11 interview at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
The use of post-consumer recycled material in the charging unit itself adds to the environmentally friendly nature of the electric Ford Focus, set to go into production this year, he said.
Leviton Manufacturing Co. Inc. of Melville, N.Y., is making the home chargers for Ford. It makes Ford's portable charger, also housed in recycled plastic—Sabic Innovative Plastics US L.L.C.'s Valox iQ, made from PET bottles. The home charging unit also will use a Sabic resin, Mr. Tinskey said.
The portable charge operates from a 110-watt connection. The home charging unit is for 240 watts, allowing drivers to charge their cars fully within three hours, he said.
Ford and Leviton designed a home charger that can easily be mounted and removed from a garage wall, making it easier for car buyers to shift it to another location if they move, Mr. Tinskey said.
In addition, Ford is working with retailer Best Buy Co. Inc., which will train its in-store support group, the “Geek Squad,” to install and service the chargers nationwide. That will make it easier for buyers to work with a local store, regardless of where they buy their car. The store also can perform remote diagnostics if there are any problems, as well as respond to repair calls on site.
“They were heading down a similar path to our way of thinking on this,” Mr. Tinskey said.
Best Buy had been bringing in master electricians to help with home-appliance installations and some of its stores already sell electric scooters and other auxiliary devices.
The first home charging units will be available in April when Ford begins selling an electric Transit van for commercial use. The main market for the electric Ford Focus will be in 19 key markets, but will expand from there. Best Buy will offer the charging station at 1,200 stores and online.
This report appeared in Plastics News, an Akron-based sister publication of Tire Business.