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June 17, 2021 12:45 PM, EDT

Ford Acquires Battery-Management Startup to Charge EV Fleets

The Ford F-150 Lightning on display in New York City The Ford F-150 Lightning on display in New York City. (Ann-Sophie Fjello-Jensen/AP Images for Ford Motor Company)

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Ford Motor Co. has acquired a startup that specializes in managing charging networks for commercial electric vehicles, a business the automaker hopes could generate as much as $1 billion in revenue by 2030.

The automaker said June 17 it acquired Electriphi, a San Francisco company that provides software to monitor and manage vans, trucks and buses in commercial fleets. Ford didn’t disclose the price it paid for the 36-employee company that was founded in 2018, but said it was part of the $30 billion it is investing in electrification by 2025.

Electriphi will become part of Ford Pro, the new commercial-vehicle unit the company created to leverage its leadership in sales of vans and trucks to business and government fleets. The software the startup created helps fleet operators maximize the time vehicles are on the road and lower the cost of charging them back at a home base. Ford see this type of depot charging as a significant source of recurring revenue.

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“We estimate that about 600,000 full-size trucks and vans will be doing depot charging by the end of the decade,” Ted Cannis, head of Ford Pro, said in an interview. “We can capture revenue growth of up to about $1 billion by 2030 in this space of depot charging. It looks like the dominant model that companies will use.”

Commercial operators are under pressure to go green, including federal fleets that President Joe Biden has targeted to electrify. But keeping vast networks of battery-powered vehicles juiced up is a “pain point” that fleet managers are seeking help with, Cannis said.

Electriphi already provides charging management to fleets of electric school buses and public-transportation vehicles. Its software will allow Ford to provide a service it expects fleet operators will pay for to simplify the shift to electric vehicles.

“Fleet managers are very nervous,” Cannis said. “We tell them the buck stops with us. We promise that we’ll support your transition to electrification and deliver that lower cost of ownership.”

Ford is rolling out an electric version of its full-size Transit van later this year and will begin selling the battery-powered F-150 Lightning pickup in the spring of 2022.

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