The Intersection of Sustainability & Mobility with Dave McCreadie

December 9, 2021

Green Is Good Symbol

From the Green Is Good Archives

Originally aired on July 20, 2015

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David McCreadie has worked at Ford for over 23 years. He spent 20 years in Product Development, working in a number of technical areas across all product lines, including five years leading the noise/vibration development of all the company’s electrified products. His larger interest in electrified and sustainable transportation led him to move into Ford’s Sustainability organization back in 2012. In this role, David has been leading efforts to set strategy for plug-in vehicle integration with the electric grid, as well as project leader for two of Ford’s Smart Mobility experiments that are looking at ways to solve some of the issues and barriers to safe and effective personal mobility in all its different forms around the globe.

John Shegerian: Welcome to Green Is Good. This is the GoGreen edition of Green Is Good and we are so honored to have with us today back on the show again Ford Motor. But this is the first time for Dave McCreadie. Welcome to Green Is Good, Dave.

Dave McCreadie: Thanks, John. It’s great to be here.

John: You know, Dave, you’ve got an amazing title. I’m going to take your card and read it for our audience. You are the Manager of Global Electrification Standards and Sustainable Business Strategies.

Dave: It’s a mouthful.

John: It’s a lot. It’s a mouthful, but it’s an important title. And let me just tell you before our audience members – and we shared this a little bit off the air – the Shegerian family, my son, Tyler, is a proud owner and driver and user of your Ford Fusion plug-in car. It is just an amazing car. Not only luxurious inside, but I’ll tell you what, it just floats on the ground and he just loves it. I mean, he just. And it saves all sorts of energy.

Dave: That car has really been at the heart of our electrification strategy to give a lot of flexibility. And it sounds like your son uses it that way too.

John: Loves it.

Dave: If you need to take a long trip on a weekend that goes beyond the electric range of the vehicle, you have always got the gas there, but for people who are living in the city and can do the frequent plug-ins, as you mentioned your son is doing.

John: Yeah.

Dave: I mean, you can go without gas for a long, long time.

John: But you overcame with that car, which we will get talking about all your products in a little while. You overcame that range anxiety so you gave everybody – like you said, there is something for everyone in that car. Before we get talking about Ford – and for our audience members most of you know how to find Ford, but I’m just going to shout it out again: It’s Dave, share a little bit about your journey. You have a very important title and a very important role at Ford in basically the redefinition of what Ford really means in terms of the opportunity to offer new cars for a new economy. Did you grow up green? Did you get the green bug in college? What was your journey like?

Dave: I think I’ve always sort of had that mental slant to me about the environment.

John: OK.

Dave: Through the time that I’ve been at Ford while I was working on the vehicles themselves a lot of that was spent working on electrified vehicles, so our pure battery electrics and our plug-in hybrids like the Fusion Electric. I did that. I worked on that car.

John: Wow.

Dave: As I progressed through a lot of that development, I started to become actually a bit more aware of and interested in sort of the larger issue of electrification. So going beyond the nuts and bolts of the car and making sure it’s quality and safe and all that. Just how can we spur more adoption of electrified vehicles, make it easier to plug-in, all of the reasons that people might cite right now for why they might not want to buy one of those cars those are the issues that I wanted to work on, and so at that point in my career, I was able to sort of make a right-hand turn over into this other sustainable business strategies group and that’s what I do now.

John: That’s awesome.

Dave: Yeah.

John: And we’re lucky you do that, let me just tell you that. Let’s talk a little bit about GoGreen. This is the GoGreen edition of Green Is Good in beautiful downtown Seattle. What is your role here today? What are you speaking about? What kind of panel? And why are you excited to be here?

Dave: I’m very excited to talk about an initiative that we kicked off earlier in the year and that our CEO, Mark Fields, made an announcement of at the consumer electronics show back in January.

John: Yeah.

Dave: And that is the Ford Smart Mobility Initiative.

John: OK.

Dave: And so that is what my talk is about later this afternoon. And really the essence of what that is is how when you look across – and globally now – the challenges that face these megacities. We can look across some of the U.S. cities and think, “Oh, traffic is horrible and congestion,” and it is, but frankly when you compare that to what other parts of the world are dealing with, it’s pretty small peanuts.

John: True.

Dave: So there are some very large and almost intractable issues that are related to transportation everywhere around the globe and Ford wants to reshape itself into a mobility company. For the first 100 years of that, following our founder Henry Ford who wanted to provide mobility to the masses, this is sort of a new way to do that. So for the first 100 years, that meant basically selling a high quality and well-priced car or truck to someone right? Well, that is changing and it’s changing rapidly, and it’s good because it’s helping to address some of these global issues. So now as a major automaker, I mean, yeah, we still make our money by selling cars and trucks, but we are starting to rethink ourselves in order to address these global issues around mobility so that we can stay true to Henry Ford’s vision of providing mobility to the masses, but now we’re going to be doing it in a way that you might not think as a traditional way for an automaker. Things like car-sharing and bike-sharing and some of the other programs that we are looking at through these mobility experiments are really what we are talking about today.

John: I want to come back and talk about specific cars like the Ford Fusion in a minute. But you brought up Mark Fields. And Ford has been on the show numerous times – I want to say four or five – and we’ve been honored to have Ford on Green Is Good. I saw Mark on television a couple times recently making a couple big announcements. One talking a little bit about the future of driverless cars.

Dave: Right.

John: Is that in the future for Ford? Do you foresee driverless cars? I know that he said the technology exists and that you’re working on it. Is this something that you are really excited about yourself, Dave?

Dave: Oh, most certainly. And those autonomous vehicles – and they are starting to become now different degrees of autonomous vehicles and one of these mobility projects that I’m working on is maybe what you’d classify as semi-autonomous. But what Mark has been saying is really critical to the mobility efforts that we have going because, I mean, it’s no secret – besides Ford – all the major OEMs are working on autonomous vehicles now.

John: Sure.

Dave: And for me, my perspective is it’s less of a question of “if” they’re coming but more so “when” they’re coming.

John: Right.

Dave: And frankly, and what I think you’ll hear in the industry, is that the technology is probably going to be ready sooner than the rest of society is.

John: Ah.

Dave: Meaning there are a lot of regulatory issues, public policy issues. Think about the insurance implications. All these things have to be worked through.

John: Worked out.

Dave: And there are still a million more discussions that need to happen on those things.

John: If you were to guess today – and I don’t want to put you on the spot but just as s fun guesstimate for our audience – if you were to foresee out when all those major issues non-technical to Ford when those policy issues can be worked out, when do you foresee autonomous cars as a whole becoming part of our society fabric like Uber and Lyft are now as you say the shared economy?

Dave: Right. It’s a fun question.

John: OK.

Dave: And I think.

John: Give a range.

Dave: Yeah. I think maybe 10 years.

John: OK.

Dave: Fifteen years from now. Because what there is going to be is that I think there is a certain group of people who already understand – and maybe it’s the younger set.

John: Yeah.

Dave: Who have already shown an inclination that they don’t necessarily want or need to drive, and especially if they live in urban areas. The fact that you would be able to go from point A to point B like you can on mass transit and read the paper or listen to music or generally not pay attention to where you are going. I think there is a certain set of people, though, who love to drive, love the experience of driving, and I think those people are going to be a little bit slower to come along.

John: So in the future, Ford will buy Uber and then we can be in an autonomous Uber car.

Dave: I think you just solved the problem right there.

John: There we go. Going back to some of your specific great and amazing cars. Like I said we’ve been blown away by the experience we’ve had with the Ford Fusion. Talk a little bit about the reinvention of Ford in your specialty. In the electrification of cars. And what models do you have for our audience members out there that you are excited to share with them now and what do you have in the immediate pipeline coming out later in 2015 and maybe 2016 that you can share and get our audience members looking and taking test drives in Fords?

Dave: Sure. Great. So right now Ford offers three plug-in vehicles.

John: OK.

Dave: The Focus Electric, which is a pure battery electric vehicle. Then there is the C-Max plug-in hybrid and the Fusion plug-in hybrid like what your son has.

John: Right.

Dave: So the range on the Focus battery electric is 80 miles.

John: Wow.

Dave: The range on the plug-in hybrids just the battery itself can give you about 20 or 21 miles of electric range and then like we were talking about earlier you’ve got the gasoline power train to back that up.

John: Right.

Dave: So one of the exciting things where the industry is heading now and certainly Ford is included in this is taking the range of these electric vehicles and really upping the ante. It’s pretty clear that range is still a major consideration – and rightfully so – for people who are considering buying an electric vehicle, although there is so much data out there in terms of the average and even the 95th percentile person how much they drive every day. And automakers are smart. They size the batteries according to that data yet people still are weary of “what if I get stuck” or whatever.

John: Right.

Dave: And part of what can help that of course is public infrastructure that’s there to help you plug-in the vehicle when you are getting short.

John: Great point.

Dave: And so there are a few things that can be done on the infrastructure side to really help the adoption of the vehicles. but the point I was going to make is that what you’re going to start to see is the range of these vehicles start to become more and more so that whereas the first generation of battery electrics you see were between 70 and 80 miles, this second generation that is coming out from Ford and others is going to be.

John: Break 100 soon?

Dave: Significantly more. I mean I can’t really talk through what exactly is coming.

John: Right. But soon it’s going to be extended from 80 and above.

Dave: Right. Yes.

John: So more and more people will be enticed to come in and get over their range anxiety.

Dave: That’s right.

John: That’s exciting.

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Dave: And like I said coming along with not only having more battery to help you get where you need to go. Through the progression of the last number of years there has been a great inflow of public infrastructure out there whether you’re talking what some people classify as slower charging, which is just a lot of the chargers that you’d see around the city right now.

John: Yeah.

Dave: But what is also coming to support is high-powered DC chargers.

John: Wow. Fast charge.

Dave: Fast charging, which is almost more akin to the time that you spend – five minutes – at the gas pump.

John: So you’ll be able to run in, pick up your dinner at Whole Foods while you’re charging your car there, and literally, you’ll have a full charge for the next day.

Dave: That’s exactly right.

John: That’s awesome. For our audience members that just joined us we’re so excited and really lucky to have with us Dave McCreadie from Ford. Let’s just say, he is one of the top bosses in electrification and also sustainability.

Dave: Wow. You’re really pumping me up. This is good.

John: At Ford. We’re talking about some of your products. So right now you have three in the car category. What other lines are going to get electrified in the coming months and years do you think?

Dave: Well, I think what you’re going to see and it’s not only because of consumer demand, but there is also another driver for the auto industry which is regulation.

John: Oh, OK.

Dave: Throughout the U.S., there are states that are classified as “green states,” and there are mandates in those states that every automaker needs to sell a certain percentage of their total fleet to be zero emission vehicles or partial zero emission vehicles.

John: Wow.

Dave: And if that doesn’t happen, there are pretty stiff penalties to the automakers for not doing so. So like I said, there is a consumer poll here and there is also a regulatory.

John: Push.

Dave: Government policy push as well. So in order to get to those numbers, what you are going to see is the technology start to proliferate across the lineup beyond just the small stable of cars, which Ford is out with right now.

John: So when you come on a year from now, more of your vehicles will probably be electrified and succeed.

Dave: That’s the direction in which things are headed.

John: That’s exciting. Let’s talk a little bit about social awareness and consumer adoption. Let’s talk geography. We are sitting here in this beautiful city of sustainability and innovation, downtown Seattle. They are lucky that the GoGreen Conference – this is the GoGreen edition of Green Is Good for our audience members that just joined. We are here today – you and I and other thought leaders – at this conference and Seattle, Vancouver, San Francisco, Portland, L.A.

Dave: Right. John

Shegerian: Is the adoption of your great electric cars and vehicles going left coast to East Coast or is there some other sort of social adoption going on that you can share with our audience members?

Dave: It’s a great question, John. Your perception is largely correct.

John: OK.

Dave: I mean when you look at the markets in which Ford is selling the majority of its plug-in vehicles, it’s definitely on the West Coast here.

John: OK.

Dave: And that is perhaps because of social attitudes and greater awareness perhaps of the environmental concerns.

John: Interesting. It seems like also there is a Millennial movement. Just employees of my company and others that want to migrate to Seattle, Portland, San Francisco. There is also a movement of Millennials to some of these innovation and sustainability hubs and cities that have leaders that really get it so maybe there are also concentrations of potentially – like my son who is 22 – your user base who is really excited about electric cars.

Dave: That’s right. John: So maybe some sort of combination is going on.

Dave: There is.

John: Yeah.

Dave: And I want to key off a point that you just mentioned about leaders in some of these cities that get it.

John: Yeah.

Dave: So here is a great example of something that is not in the West Coast. I’m not sure if you are aware but the city of Atlanta over the course of the last, I think, couple years now has been the highest rate of adoption – I don’t know if it’s per capita or whatever.

John: Yeah.

Dave: Of electric vehicles in the country. Even with California.

John: No kidding.

Dave: And it’s because of the incentives that have been placed on the vehicles through the state and local government. So, I mean, that is still very much – that is another one – getting back to some of the issues with adoption.

John: Yeah.

Dave: One of the hurdles that the automakers are still working through and trying to get over is the fact that in general when you are talking about two comparable cars, one is an electric vehicle and the other is not the electric vehicle is usually more expensive.

John: Right.

Dave: And it’s because of the battery and these batteries are very expensive singular components of the vehicles and so while all the automakers and others in the industry in general are madly rushing to try to invent the cheaper, long-lasting, quickly recharged battery and things are heading in that direction, but in the mean time, customer adoption really needs to be helped by continued government involvement with incentives and things like that.

John: That’s a great point. I never thought of it that way, but just in California when my son was buying his car, we saw that if he put the label on – the sticker – outside of his car, you get to ride in the carpool lane.

Dave: That’s a big incentive. The HOV lane.

John: The HOV lane just with one person and in the city. And other city leaders such as Santa Monica not only do they have lots of charging stations and Whole Foods and other great brands that are really getting excited about this revolution, but also you can park on the streets there and you don’t have to feed the meters.

Dave: That’s right.

John: For free.

Dave: That’s right.

John: So I mean like you said there are lots of great government leaders now both locally and on a statewide basis that are pushing the adoption of your great and very innovative cars. We’re down to the last three or four minutes or so, Dave, and I want to go back to Mark Fields and combine that with what you are doing. Recently, he also announced that you guys are opening up an office and innovation hub in Silicon Valley.

Dave: That’s right.

John: Talk a little bit about how that interrelates with what you are doing exactly in mobility and what can we expect to be coming out of Silicon Valley.

Dave: Sure. That’s a great question. So yeah we just were out there in late January for the grand opening of that lab.

John: Yeah.

Dave: And it’s very exciting and really dovetails just perfectly into the innovative nature of Ford Motor Company. And really the charter out there is kind of coming from a confluence of factors not the least of which is the connective car and the wireless mobile networks and the bandwidth and low latency that they have and just really the ubiquity of – I mean, everywhere you go now your cell phone works, right?

John: Right.

Dave: And works well. And that pipeline into the vehicles is allowing for enabling so many innovative features – many things we haven’t even thought of yet – for just services that you can one day have as a customer while driving your vehicle. And so that lab out there really has as part of its purview is to embrace that connected car and to help Ford navigate through where we want to go, what services can we provide, again, for not only just electrified vehicles but all vehicles, from everything ranging from technology to help you park easier to just overall connectedness.

John: That is so interesting. You know which can help also with real-time traffic reports.

Dave: Very much.

John: Or also shortcuts to get places so you save energy getting to places. Also, some folks have told me outside of the car industry is there is actually technology coming to cars that is somewhat akin to the wearables that are now coming out in Apple Watches and other great electric wearables such as you’ll be able to – when people are holding the steering wheel and touch the steering wheel – be able to get your….

Dave: Vital signs. Yeah.

John: Vital signs and other things that are downloaded to either your car and announced to you or on your dashboard or something. And is this part of what the innovation lab over there at Ford is doing?

Dave: Yeah. I mean it’s really wide open.

John: So exciting.

Dave: There are so many things that are on the horizon for that and that lab is squarely right in the middle of a lot of it so it’s been really exciting.

John: Well, we are going to let you go today, Dave. We know you have a panel coming up but we are going to invite you back to continue the journey.

Dave: I’d love to be back.

John: To continue the journey of sustainability and mobility at Ford and keep sharing with our audience which is very interested in these important topics. For our audience members out there to learn more about everything Dave is doing with his colleagues at Ford, please go to Dave McCreadie, you are an inspiring business leader, sustainability superstar and truly living proof that Green Is Good. Thank you very much for being with us today.

Dave: Thanks so much for having me, John.

John: Thank you very much.

Dave: Great.