Planet Forward at Ford: Building the ‘Just Transition’

Ford’s all electric version of its best-selling vehicle, the F-150, debuted to the public in the Spring of 2022. In the two short years since, the electric vehicles market has expanded, swelled, and slowed.

With transportation emissions serving as a huge portion of greenhouse gases warming the planet, a transition to electric vehicles remains a priority for many consumers as well as auto manufacturers like Ford.

But as with any corporation, large-scale changes depend on the market — and with a purchasing slowdown, questions have arisen regarding the commitment to EV prioritization.

Planet Forward at Ford: Building the 'Just Transition'
Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

In February 2024, eight Planet Forward students visited Ford Motor Company’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center on a reporting trip to check in with Ford engineers and staff on the progress of EV manufacturing and adoption. The students flew in from Pillar and Consortium schools across the country, including George Washington University SUNY-ESF, University of Arizona, Middlebury College, Tuskegee University, and Howard University.

Students and staff pose below a wind tunnel fixture inside a Ford testing facility.
Planet Forward students and staff from left to right inside of Ford’s wind tunnel: Mykah Scott, Owen Volk, Nizhoni Tallas, Frank Sesno, Malick Thiam, Arlo Smaldone, Aaron Dye, Aleena Fayaz, Isaac Vergun, Joy Reeves.

On a chilly morning in Dearborn, Michigan, the students were guided through Ford’s largest production plant and later toured the Ford Vehicle Performance and Electrification Center where Ford’s latest batteries undergo rigorous trials and testing.

The Just Transition to electric vehicles is a global commitment with far reaching ripple effects on water conservation in auto manufacturing, public health, supply chains, and electrical grids. The stories in this series will not only explore such topics, but also dive into the concerns and motivations of consumers who may be considering purchasing their first EV’s.

A 1900 wooden electric truck sits in a museum floorspace.
The 1900 wood electric truck, one of Ford’s earliest electric vehicles, on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
Students peer inside a battery testing compartment in a Ford testing facility.
A battery-testing chamber inside the Ford Vehicle Performance and Electrification Center in Dearborn, Michigan.

Editor’s Note: Ford Motor Company made this series possible by providing support and access to Planet Forward’s student journalists. All editorial content is created independently. We thank Ford Motor Company for their support of our project.