Electric vehicle charging solutions provider AeroVironment just made an agreement with Ford Motor Co. to be the preferred installation partner and authorized charging station supplier for its plug-ins – Ford Focus Electric and the C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrids. Customers will get a 240-volt charger and schedule a turnkey professional installation after making a call to AeroVironment (with a web-based option soon to come). AeroVironment also brings its nationwide network of certified installers and a three-year onsite parts and labor warranty.
AeroVironment has become the leader in the field – having installed 11,000 charging stations (home, public, and workplace). Two of its competitors – ChargePoint and ECOtality – have deployed US Department of Energy-grant funded installations, but AeroVironment has surged forward through its partnership with the Nissan Leaf and other customers who are very familiar with the diverse company known for its technology expertise. AeroVironment plays a leading role in supplying the US Dept. of Defense and its military organizations with electric-powered unmanned aircraft systems (aka drones). In the early 1990s, AeroVironment worked with General Motors on an electric vehicle test program that became the EV1 electric car.
The Ford program is a little bit different than the dealer program AeroVironment announced at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention earlier this year. Those buying a battery electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid have the option of financing the charger in combination with the vehicle at the time of sale. Dealers can now offer a one-stop shop experience for EV drivers. Dealers can offer various “bumper-to-bumper” warranty options for the chargers that match the financing terms of the vehicle. Chargers bought through the dealer program are installed by a licensed electrician certified in EV charging installation in all 50 states.
Nissan is working with AeroVironment on this program, and the charging station maker may do something similar with BMW, Mitsubishi, and other OEMs. Ford’s alliance with AeroVironment is very similar to the one-stop financing program with Nissan. Ford is seeing gradual increases in EV sales, and is getting a lot of attention with its C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrids. It wouldn’t be surprising to see other major OEMs announce similar supplier agreements with AeroVironment.