Ford’s CEO Takes Electric F150 on Road Trip and Documents Challenges He Faces

By: Georgia | Published: Apr 24, 2024

During a cross-country journey in Ford’s electric F-150 Lightning, Ford CEO Jim Farley encountered firsthand the challenges electric vehicle (EV) owners often face when charging their vehicles. 

Farley shared his experience on X (formerly Twitter), stating, “Charging has been pretty challenging.” His road trip served as an insightful exploration into the obstacles customers encounter.

Insights From a Cross-Country EV Journey

Farley’s road trip across Route 66 in the F-150 Lightning highlighted the practical challenges of EV charging infrastructure. His experience reflects a broader issue within the EV market—charging availability and speed are critical for consumer acceptance and the future success of electric vehicles. 

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A sunset view of the iconic Route 66 in the desert. The road is empty, stretching straight into the horizon, with the Route 66 emblem painted prominently on the asphalt

Source: Morten Andreassen/Unsplash

By documenting his journey, Farley aimed to share a genuine user experience, underlining the importance of addressing these challenges for EV customers.

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Encounter at a California Charging Station

On his journey, Farley visited a charging station in Coalinga, California, where he observed a significant presence of Tesla Superchargers.

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A row of Tesla Supercharger stations stands in a sunlit parking lot, with bright red accents on the white charging pillars

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Despite the abundance of Tesla’s fast-charging options, Farley had to rely on a lower-speed charger, achieving a 40% charge in approximately 40 minutes. 

Positive Charging Experience in Baker, California

Not all experiences on the road were challenging for Farley. In Baker, California, he accessed a 350 kW charger that provided a quick and convenient charging session. 

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Close-up of an electric vehicle's charging port during a rain shower, with water droplets scattered across the surface

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Farley expressed his satisfaction, stating, “Was so quick and easy.” This positive experience shed light on the significant impact that fast and efficient charging stations can have on the overall EV driving experience.

The Barrier to EV Adoption

Farley’s road trip experience demonstrated a critical barrier to EV adoption: the current state of charging infrastructure.

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A ClipperCreek electric vehicle charging station in an outdoor parking area during daylight. The station is black with a white handle and cables neatly coiled, against a backdrop of landscaped bushes and a walkway

Source: Roger Starnes Sr/Unsplash

Long charging times have deterred potential EV buyers, highlighting the urgency for advancements in charging technology and infrastructure to support the growing number of electric vehicles on the road.

Collaboration With Tesla for Charging Solutions

Recognizing the need for faster charging solutions, Ford has announced a partnership with Tesla to grant Ford EV drivers access to Tesla’s Supercharger network. 

A close-up of a Tesla Supercharger illuminated in red at night. The Tesla logo on the charger is brightly lit, contrasting with the dark background

Source: Paul Steuber/Unsplash

This collaboration aims to enhance the charging experience for Ford EV owners, potentially reducing charging times and making electric vehicles more appealing to a broader audience.

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Farley’s Mission to Understand EV Challenges

Embarking from Palo Alto, California, to Las Vegas along Route 66, Farley’s journey was not just about testing an EV; it was an in-depth research mission to understand the EV landscape. 

A man, clad in a blue vest and white shirt, is plugging a charging cable into a red electric vehicle at a Tesla Supercharger station during the day

Source: jimfarley98/X

According to a LinkedIn post by Farley, the trip was an opportunity to engage with various stakeholders in the EV community, from researchers to drivers, gaining insights into the challenges and opportunities within the EV market.

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Ford to Benefit From Supercharger Access

The upcoming access to Tesla’s Supercharger network for Ford EVs represents a significant improvement in the charging experience for Ford customers. 

A detailed close-up of the 'LIGHTNING' nameplate on the side of a Ford F-150 Lightning truck. The model name is written in capitalized blue letters with a stylized font, positioned next to the vehicle's rear red taillight

Source: Cyrus Crossan/Unsplash

This strategic partnership is expected to alleviate some of the charging challenges highlighted by Farley, offering more efficient charging solutions and potentially accelerating EV adoption among Ford drivers.

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Industry-wide Movement Towards Improved Charging Infrastructure

Following Ford’s announcement of its partnership with Tesla, other automotive manufacturers like GM and Rivian have also shown interest in improving their charging infrastructure. 

A driver's hand rests on a Ford vehicle's steering wheel, which is covered in black leather with the iconic Ford oval badge in the center

Source: Adam Mills/Unsplash

This trend indicates a collective effort within the industry to address one of the major hurdles to EV adoption, ensuring better charging experiences for EV owners.

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The Complex EV Landscape in the US Market

Bloomberg reports that the United States presents a challenging environment for electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers, with mixed signals regarding the demand for EVs. Ford and General Motors have expressed concerns about declining EV demand, yet Tesla continues to achieve success, and other manufacturers like Hyundai and Kia show no signs of slowing down.

A close-up image showing a blue and black electric vehicle charging cable connected to a car's charging port

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The scenario is further complicated by the changes to the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) tax credits, making it harder to access them this year. However, for models that do qualify, the tax credit will be available at the point of sale, potentially influencing buyer decisions.

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EV Sales Projections and Market Influences

Projected EV sales in the US are estimated to be just under 1.9 million units, representing 13% of new car purchases. 

A man in a black winter jacket and cap is plugging a charger into the front charging port of a white electric vehicle. The vehicle is parked outdoors with a backdrop of snow-covered ground and a residential setting

Source: jimfarley98/X

However, the market faces potential uncertainties, with political polarization potentially impacting sales negatively. It’s important to note that while the US is a significant market, it is expected to contribute to only about 11% of global EV sales. Given the global perspective, the developments in the US should be viewed with caution, understanding that they are part of a larger, more diverse global EV landscape.

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Ford Adjusts Its EV Strategy

In response to market dynamics and the challenges of EV adoption, Ford has recalibrated its production forecasts and strategic goals. 

Three people, two men and one woman, are engaged in a conversation on a car manufacturing plant floor. One man is in a suit, and the other two are wearing Ford-branded work attire. Behind them, partially assembled vehicles are suspended from an overhead conveyor system

Source: jimfarley98/X

Originally ambitious in its EV production targets, the company has had to adjust its plans, demonstrating the need for flexibility and responsiveness in the rapidly evolving EV landscape.

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