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Ford CEO takes a road trip in one of his own company's electric vehicles, calls the experience 'challenging' and a 'reality check'

Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Ford CEO Jim Farley recently took a relatively short road trip from Palo Alto, CA to Las Vegas, NV in one of his company's own electric vehicles in order to assess the experience his customers were having with the product. Farley's assessment was refreshingly honest, for the CEO of a company that has invested so heavily in the production of electric vehicles.

Even though the bulk of the trip took place in California, which has invested more heavily in electric vehicle infrastructure than any other state in the country by far, Farley admitted that the experience of finding good charging stations — and the delays caused by bad ones — were a major source of delay and hassle for customers.

"Charging has been pretty challenging," Farley admitted in a video posted to Twitter. Although he noted that he had a good charging experience at a major Tesla charging facility, he noted that at a different, lower speed charging location, he had to wait 40 minutes for the charger to impart a paltry 40% charge to the vehicle.

"It was a really good reality check of the challenges of what our customers go through and the importance of fast charging and what we're going to have to do to improve the charging experience," Farley admitted.

Farley noted that Ford is partnering with Tesla to increase the number of fast charging stations available to Ford customers, as well as installing fast chargers at certified Ford dealers.

While that may improve the experience of electric vehicle customers in the short term, Farley may be understating the extent of the problem facing the electric vehicle industry. Additional fast charging stations may improve the speed at which electric vehicle owners can charge their vehicles, but they will not solve the much larger threat that is looming: namely, that there simply is not enough power in the United States power grid to handle a mass transition to electric vehicles.

Even staunch advocates of mass transition to electric vehicles admit that the United States power grid is not ready — or even nearly ready — for such a transition. And power companies face an uphill battle in terms of increasing their total power output in the face of increasing regulations that impose additional costs on the cheapest available source of electric power generation, fossil fuels.

As they struggle to meet state mandates that require higher percentages of renewable energy generation, little is being done to ensure that another crisis does not hit when looming state and federal mandates requiring the exclusive production of electric vehicles begin to take effect in coming years.

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