June 28, 2022

Farming of the future: Ford Pro, Sonoma County winegrowers join forces to electrify business of Farming

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  • Ford Pro is collaborating in a pilot program that will supply three Sonoma County farms in California with the full suite of Ford Pro solutions, including F-150® Lightning Pro pickups and E-Transit cargo vans to help drive their business forward while tackling the next frontier in sustainable fleet operations
  • Pilot program farms are being outfitted with Ford Pro charging stations to complement the solar power that has been a critical part of the push for sustainability by the Sonoma County Winegrowers since 2014
  • Ford Pro Intelligence™ 1 services is designed to help small businesses optimize their gas and electric fleets by providing always-on access to vehicle health reports and other data that help reduce operating costs, vehicle downtime and fuel consumption

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SEBASTOPOL, Calif., Jan. 26, 2022 – One of the most forward-thinking winegrowing counties in the United States is looking to advance its sustainability mission, and the Ford Pro suite of electric vehicles, charging and telematics services has been tapped to help make that happen.

Ford Pro and the Sonoma County Winegrowers, a group of more than 1,800 grape farmers in Northern California, are launching a pilot program that will add Ford F-150® Lightning Pro pickups, E-Transit cargo vans, and Ford Pro Intelligence products and services to three pilot farms in Sonoma County, one of the world’s most renowned wine regions.

The heart of the mission is to demonstrate how electric vehicles and web-based fleet management tools can have a positive impact on the agriculture industry in terms of increasing productivity, improving sustainability and lowering the total cost of fleet ownership anywhere from 10% to 20%2.

“Ford Pro is thrilled to team with the Sonoma County Winegrowers to further their sustainability goals and begin their transition to fully integrated all-electric fleets with on-site charging,” said Wanda Young, Ford Pro global chief marketing officer. “Ford Pro and the Sonoma County Winegrowers are driven by many of the same tenets – to accelerate productivity while operating responsibly.”

The pilot program is launching with Bevill Vineyard Management and Vino Farms in Healdsburg, and Dutton Ranch in Sebastopol – which collectively represent about 4,000 acres in the vineyard-rich Russian River Valley. Young anticipates the program will expand in the coming months to include other farming operations in the county.

About 60,000 acres across Sonoma County are dedicated to growing wine grapes, and another 120,000 acres are used for other diversified agriculture, such as apple orchards, dairy farms and cut flowers. In 2014, the Sonoma County Winegrowers launched an initiative to represent one of the nation’s leading winegrowing regions in terms of sustainability, with a target of reaching sustainable designation for nearly all of its vineyard acreage in the county.

Karissa Kruse, Sonoma County Winegrowers president and internationally renowned sustainability champion, said she believes electric vehicle adoption and efficient fleet management are the next steps in sustainability.

In addition to the vehicles, farms can consult with the Ford Pro team for the duration of the program. Pilot farmers will have access to Ford Pro Intelligence1 software, home and depot charging, Ford Pro Telematics Essentials3 and Ford Pro E-Telematics4 and energy management – all to help reduce operating costs and more efficiently manage gas- and electric-powered vehicle fleets.

“This collaboration with the Ford Pro team is a great natural next step to help us continue our progress in sustainable agriculture,” Kruse said. “A lot of farming families have a rich history with Ford, and with history comes trust. So as many of our farmers look for ways to lead in innovation and be a part of the solution, that trust is critical when it comes to investing in electric vehicles and in solutions to manage farming fleets. Our farmers love this pilot program; it’s going to be foundational.”

Vehicles among farmers’ most valuable tools

A year in the life of a Sonoma County winegrower can be sliced into two portions – roughly nine months to grow and three months to harvest. Occasionally, as in 2017, the uncertainties of Mother Nature condense the harvest to a four-week sprint. No time for vehicle downtime.

Ford Pro Intelligence* gives farmers access to important data on every vehicle – whether gas-powered or electric. The web-based service offers always-on access to vehicle health reports and other data designed to help limit vehicle downtime while lowering operating costs. All across the county, on farms large and small, winegrowers rely daily on their trucks to haul everything from fertilizer and fuel tanks to water and portable bathrooms. Some vehicles log upward of 50,000 miles a year, traveling between properties from Cloverdale to Petaluma.

Naturally, operating these vehicles – and maintaining them to keep them operational – is one of an organization’s largest expenses. At Dutton Ranch, which runs a fleet of about 70 work vehicles, fuel costs average about $5,000 per month. The prospect of reducing that monthly expense is critical to operations moving forward. Electric vehicles, coupled with the solar power that many Sonoma County ranches already generate and store, represent an important way to help offset rising fuel costs.

The technology connects wirelessly – helping businesses manage fleets with real-time vehicle insights. Information includes maintenance schedules, charge event monitoring, vehicle tracking, state of charge, range, charge history and logs, charging/battery settings and alerts, and departure preconditioning to help maximize range and save battery life for the road to get the job done.

“Just as an F-150 Lightning or E-Transit is an essential asset for a small business owner, so too is Ford Pro Intelligence,” Young said. “We believe that the telematics data will change the way farmers manage their fleets and operations.”

As veterans in sustainability practices, the Sonoma County Winegrowers have impacted other vocations regionally. Representatives in trucking, logistics, grocery stores and other specialties have taken notice, and Kruse hopes her organization continues to help lead the charge.

Ford, meanwhile, is among the automotive leaders in sustainability – the only full-line American automaker committed to doing its part to reduce CO2 emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement and working with California for stronger vehicle greenhouse gas standards5. Ford is targeting 100% renewable energy for its global operations by 2035 and being fully carbon neutral worldwide by 2050.

1 Available on vehicles with embedded modem or equipped with approved plug-in device. May require modem activation. Ford Pro Telematics and Ford Pro Data Services require a purchased subscription. Terms and conditions apply. Telematics service and features, and access to vehicle data, depend on subscription and compatible AT&T network availability. Evolving technology/cellular networks/vehicle capability may limit functionality and prevent operation of connected features.

2 Based on “Case Study: Olathe Ford CV Dealership Fleet Management TCO Model” KPMG, Dec. 10, 2021.

3 Complimentary product. Available on vehicles with embedded modem. Requires modem activation. Terms and conditions apply. Telematics service and features, and access to vehicle data depend on compatible AT&T network availability. Evolving technology/cellular networks/vehicle capability may limit functionality and prevent operation of connected features.

4 Eligible vehicles receive a complimentary three-year trial of E-Telematics services that begins on the new vehicle warranty start date. Requires modem activation. Terms and conditions apply. Telematics service and features, and access to vehicle data, depend on compatible AT&T network availability. Evolving technology/cellular networks/vehicle capability may limit functionality and prevent operation of connected features. After the three-year trial, annual service contract is required for E-Telematics service. Call 833.811.3673 to activate E-Telematics service.

5 Based on latest available information as of July 8, 2021. https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/.

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