DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. has contracted with a new vendor to install home charging stations for electrified vehicles.
AeroVironment Inc. in Monrovia, Calif., will replace Best Buy's Geek Squad, which had been installing the charging stations for Ford customers since 2011, according to C.J. O'Donnell, Ford's electrified vehicle marketing manager.
AeroVironment makes high-tech electronic equipment for the transportation industry, including charging stations and unmanned aircraft. The company also makes charging stations for other carmakers, including BMW, Nissan and Mitsubishi.
Ford has not discontinued its relationship with Best Buy. Ford customers can choose between AeroVironment's charging station or one sold by Best Buy and made by Leviton Manufacturing Co. of Melville, N.Y. Whichever brand the customer chooses, AeroVironment technicians do the installation.
Either of the 240-volt stations will reduce charging time for a Ford Focus Electric from 18 hours from a 110-volt outlet to just under four hours. Ford also sells two plug-in hybrid models: the C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi. Plugging into the stations can cut charging times to 21/2 hours, from seven hours for a conventional 110-volt outlet.
Mike Tinskey, director of vehicle electrification and infrastructure, said the charging stations range in cost from $839 to $899 for customers who choose to buy the unit and hire their own installer. It's $1,799 for the "full white glove service," which includes installation and a guarantee that the job will be done in one day, except in areas where local laws might require special permits.
So far, about half of Ford's plug-in customers have chosen the white glove option, according to Amanda Zusman, Ford spokeswoman.
Tinskey said the decision to discontinue the Geek Squad relationship was mutual.
He said Ford is joining other carmakers in finding a more streamlined process for installing chargers.
"It used to be you'd have somebody come with a camera, take a photo and e-mail the customer a quote," he said. Sometimes the process required two or three visits. Now it takes just one visit, he said.
"All that has been streamlined for most of the nation to a one-day installation," he said. "The installers, when they show up, have the hardware with them. So it's a much more fluid installation."
Steven Gitlin, vice president of marketing strategy for AeroVironment, said the company has installed "more than 11,000 systems for a combination of residents, auto dealers and public businesses."