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FARMING OF THE FUTURE: FORD PRO, SONOMA COUNTY WINEGROWERS JOIN FORCES TO ELECTRIFY BUSINESS OF FARMING

  • 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

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 Essentials™3 and Ford Pro™ E-Telematics™4 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.

Ford F-150 Lightning F-150 Lightning Pro and E-Transit start in pilot program for sustainable farming Lightning & E-Transit 92940


Ford F-150 Lightning F-150 Lightning Pro and E-Transit start in pilot program for sustainable farming 22_FRD_XBD_56761_PRO


Ford F-150 Lightning F-150 Lightning Pro and E-Transit start in pilot program for sustainable farming 22_FRD_XBD_56688_PRO


Ford F-150 Lightning F-150 Lightning Pro and E-Transit start in pilot program for sustainable farming 22_FRD_TRN_56740_BEV


Ford F-150 Lightning F-150 Lightning Pro and E-Transit start in pilot program for sustainable farming 22_FRD_TRN_56683_BEV


Ford F-150 Lightning F-150 Lightning Pro and E-Transit start in pilot program for sustainable farming 22_FRD_TRN_56685_BEV


Ford F-150 Lightning F-150 Lightning Pro and E-Transit start in pilot program for sustainable farming 22_FRD_TRN_56542_BEV


Ford F-150 Lightning F-150 Lightning Pro and E-Transit start in pilot program for sustainable farming 22_FRD_TRN_56680_BEV


Ford F-150 Lightning F-150 Lightning Pro and E-Transit start in pilot program for sustainable farming 22_FRD_TRN_56681_BEV
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CoyoteJim

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I like it. I also read they were doing something with Francis Ford Coppola and Inglenook in Napa. If Ford has a lot of projects like this going around the country I guess that helps to explain the limited number of Pros available to retail customers, at least for '22.
 

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Wine growing as farming, lmao

I live the idea of proving their utility with farming, but... this is a joke of a dog and pony show for CA (SF, Bay Area) Lightning buyers. They probably didn't get as many reservations from that area as their Three Marketeers predicted and this is the best idea they could come up with?

I am rooting for the F150 EV to succeed and be used on small farms/ranchettes/homesteads, but this shows that there is a huge underlying motive to secure a large chunk of production for the suburban commuter to mitigate the volume of anecdotal evidence about how someone's EV-150 wasn't up to the task. There will always be a number of people who ask too much of EVs, but this indicates that Ford themselves don't believe the F150 Lightning is up to regular F150 usage and they want to minimize the tarnish on the nameplate.
 

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I like it. I also read they were doing something with Francis Ford Coppola and Inglenook in Napa. If Ford has a lot of projects like this going around the country I guess that helps to explain the limited number of Pros available to retail customers, at least for '22.
Judging from the fact that there is no license plate on the back of the E Transit van, I suspect that these are all preproduction vehicles that will not impact retail numbers.
 

CoyoteJim

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Judging from the fact that there is no license plate on the back of the E Transit van, I suspect that these are all preproduction vehicles that will not impact retail numbers.
Yes, they just used what preproduction vehicles they had for a photo shoot. You can see the cables to all the charging posts are laying on the ground like they were hastily set up. I think it unlikely a winery or farm will be getting such a colorful selection of vehicles. They are probably getting the first Pros off the line, though, all Oxford White much like the ICE vehicles in the photos.
 

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I will take one for my farm ?
Mine will be used for personal use and the farm as well.
 

CoyoteJim

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Here is a review that looks like it was done at the same event in Sebastopol. It's the first time I've seen a ride along done with an SR vehicle.

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