Ford, Utilities to Tie Plug-in Hybrids into Smart Grid

by | Aug 19, 2009

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fordhybridsystemAs part of a strategy to improve fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions, Ford Motor Company has developed an intelligent communications and control system for its plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that enables the vehicles to communicate with the nation’s electric grid via smart meters provided by utilities through wireless networking.

The new vehicle-to-grid technology, which leverages Ford’s advancements such as SYNC, SmartGauge with EcoGuide and Ford Work Solutions, allows the vehicle operator to program when to recharge the vehicle, for how long and at what utility rate, according to the company.

Ford and its utility partners are now testing the intelligent system. All 21 of Ford’s fleet of plug-in hybrid Escapes will be equipped with the vehicle-to-grid communications technology. The first of the specially equipped plug-in hybrids has been delivered to American Electric Power in Columbus, Ohio. Ford’s other utility partners’ vehicles will also be equipped with the communications technology.

Over the past two years, Ford and its industry partners have logged more than 75,000 miles on the plug-in hybrid test fleet, focusing on battery technology, vehicle systems, customer usage and grid infrastructure. Ford and its research partners are now working to make the recharging process easier and more efficient for consumers. Click here for a list of partnerships.

Ford plans to invest nearly $14 billion in advanced technology vehicles over the next seven years to retool its U.S. plants more quickly to produce fuel-efficient vehicles. The car company recently received two grants from the Department of Energy (DOE) under its fleet electrification program, which was created to accelerate viable commercial production of electrified vehicles and vehicle-to-grid infrastructure development.

The $30-million grant will help fund Ford’s collaboration with utility partners to expand their vehicle demonstration and grid integration program, while the $62.7 million grant, matched by Ford, will be used to develop an electric-drive transaxle.

DOE grant funds also will support production of electric-drive system components at Ford supplier Magna, for the Ford Focus battery electric vehicle, as well as Johnson Controls-Saft, which will supply high-voltage batteries for Ford’s plug-in hybrid vehicle in 2012.

In addition to the plug-in hybrid vehicle, Ford plans to introduce a pure battery electric Transit Connect commercial van in 2010, and a battery electric Focus compact car in 2011.

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