How Ford's most profitable business is defying the EV slump

Keith Naughton, Bloomberg News on

Published in Business News

While malaise sets in across much of the electric vehicle market, there’s a corner that’s still going strong, where buyers like Chris Russo show little concern about high prices or range anxiety or spotty charging infrastructure.

The co-founder of Elite Home Care, a South Carolina-based company, bought his first EV more than two years ago — a Ford E-Transit van that his business uses every day to transport senior citizens. Since then, he has added dozens more battery-powered models, electrifying nearly his entire 100-vehicle fleet. Russo figures he saves $6,500 a year on each EV compared with similar-sized gas-powered vehicles because of lower fuel and maintenance costs. And with 100 chargers at his company’s vehicle depot, the fleet can operate with clockwork-like efficiency.

“Our drivers go out, do the job, come back to our site, charge it overnight, come back the next day and do it again,” he said. “It’s just like charging a phone.”

Demand from fleet-based vehicle operators is a lone bright spot for the EV industry as global sales sputter. While retail buyers balk at high sticker prices and worry about where they will charge up on a road trip, business owners say EVs are ideal for routine, relatively short-distance routes.

The trend is especially pronounced at Ford Motor Co., which sells more work trucks and vans in the U.S. than any other carmaker. Ford Pro, the company’s commercial division, has become its biggest and most profitable growth engine.

“EV adoption on Pro is actually going much better than we thought,” Chief Executive Officer Jim Farley told analysts at a conference in February. “They use the vehicles more intensely, so the operating costs on the energy side are much better than they thought. We can’t make enough E-Transits.”


All of this has made Ted Cannis, CEO of Ford Pro, something of a rising star. The 35-year company veteran has served as head of the unglamorous commercial business for the past four years. Previously, he headed Ford’s global electrification push, something he has worked to integrate as part of Pro’s seamless suite of hardware and software products.

“You can find it all in one place,” Cannis said in an interview. “That premise is working beyond my wildest dreams.”

Rivals’ push

Long before EVs entered the lineup in 2022, the company enjoyed a leading position in fleet sales. But rivals have taken notice and are beefing up their own offerings.


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