Podcast Notes: Darren Palmer on the EV Revolution


I listen to podcasts while doing chores like cooking, travelling in public transport, doing dishes…etc., In most cases, I just absorb what I can with the partial attention I provide to the podcast. Recently I thought, I would listen to some of them with a bit more attention, like a lecture and take some notes. I learnt a lot in this one from how EV range anxiety is a non-problem to wineries hedge their quality of wine my mixing grapes from different fields.


This one is a conversation between Bloomberg Opinion columnist Barry Ritholtz speaks and Darren Palmer, Ford Motor Co.’s vice president for electric vehicle programs. They take about Darren Palmer’s professional journey in Ford and Ford’s electric vehicle lineup and the future of Ford and Electric vehicles.

Ford Electric Vehicles

  • 11 Billion starting investment
  • 50 billion in current investment
  • use lessons from startups for velocity of execution
  • travelled to EV rich countries like Norway to China to learn
  • Interesting case where an EV user declined 100% refund of the EV vehicle and a BMW car to get rid of the EV and switch to petrol car, because he was holding the future and he doesn’t want to go back
  • focus on millennial market + Mustang brand
  • lack of Operating System is what was the limiting factor once the design was completed
  • using web technologies for creating the interface provided the team with great velocity
  • UI was hosted by a developer sitting at home, which was live updated during a test run based on customer complaint
  • from the first day, social media is being watched and feedback followed up
  • Team Edison – has a very flat structure
  • Ask what they want and move out of their way
  • fast track approvals and let them do their jobs

Converting Petrol Heads

  • Mustang club wasn’t comfortable and said they won’t be endorsing the EV Mustang
  • end of the launch presidents of both the Mustang clubs had purchased multiple vehicles
  • realisation – EV provides complementary experience with Petrol vehicles
  • petrol heads are not petrol heads, but performance heads and electric vehicles can deliver better performance
  • EV Mustang has such a performance that the only thing needed to be done to convert a person into EV is just getting them into the EV vehicle
  • tests for the vehicles are no longer done with humans because the acceleration limits are too high
  • torture tests for Ford vehicles on YouTube

E Transit – Vans

  • Focus on commercial customers
  • Payback starts from day 1
  • running costs are about half
  • extra mileage is limited because of predictability of routes – so EV mileage anxiety is not an issue
  • trips are planned and executed with right charging window
  • only 10% of our market
  • everyday seeing new use-cases in the commercial sector

Use-case #1: French Winery

  • wineries collect grapes from different parcels of land and mix them to get an average better wine (if 1 of 3 is bad), they still get a decent wine because of the 2 good parcels
  • but they don’t know if they have had 2 of 3 bad until a year later when they pull samples from the vats
  • a winery wanted to get the best quality and decided to use 1 vat per parcel, so at t
  • vat sizes are big and restriction on building above ground, so winery built the vats under ground by a mountain side
  • used the diesel vehicles for transportation
  • converted entire fleet to the electrical after seeing electrical performance
  • talks to American group of wine makers
  • now there is a huge demand from the wineries for electrical vehicles

USE-CASE #2: Mobile kitchens

  • popup kitchens with electric equipment
  • uses the battery to drive to people’s homes, plug-in and start cooking
  • battery operated electrical vehicles can use the battery to power the kitchen

BlueOval Charging Network

  • have the resources to setup independent network
  • but poor value for customers with each manufacturer setting up their own networks – so created a coalition
  • there are regional networks
  • remote monitoring of all stations
  • payment systems, terminals, ..etc all have to play along
  • they have instrumented vehicles, roaming the network, just to test the charging stations
  • problems identified are communicates to the CEOs of the stations of the network
  • problematic stations can be removed from the network if the quality problems aren’t addressed

Long charge times

  • perception is very different
  • charge in iPhone is bad compared to a flip phone, still no-one wants to switch back to a flip phone after using an iphone
  • the process of going to get petrol is obsolete
  • it actually takes 30 seconds to charge the car – because all you do is just plugin
  • daily charge is almost never conscious – go home, plugin and walk away, its charged and ready to go when you come back to it again
  • tech to charge faster is still developing
  • but it makes less difference than we think because the human element plays a very big role in when/how we charge
  • with 300 mile cars (current range of Ford EVs), it’s not actually a requirement
  • users will take a break after driving for a couple of hours (~200 miles), pit stops are more than necessary to replenish the charge
  • large miles like 800-1000 miles

Recycling and reusablity

  • materials are really in demand
  • if they don’t have access to minerals for batteries now, they are going to be in trouble
  • Blue City (Blue Ocean City? Blue Oval City??) – vertical integrated city for battery integration
  • collection of leftover and recycling to be more efficient in production

Buttons in the Cars

  • hardware switches/buttons are difficult to modify once installed
  • software provides the ability to change and modify
  • context level buttons – adaptable interface based on the context
  • parking camera buttons are not needed at 60 miles/hr – UI can hide them
  • smart vehicles can remember the way you park, so it will auto launch camera when on parking mode and can remember which camera is more frequently used and launch it automatically
  • smart UI with sensible human overrides
  • we think we need a button until we are presented with a better experience
  • no cycling around the cameras pressing the same button again and again

Customer education

  • basic problems because customers completely ignore the instructions
  • they just buy the car and use it without any research
  • so gamification kind of notifications to teach customers about nuances of an EV

Author: Arunmozhi

Arunmozhi is a freelance programmer and an open-source enthusiast.

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