Plug-in hybrids are coming, and if the car companies and government have anything to do with, are coming very soon. But, in order to be successful, plugging in your car is going to take a bit of co-operation between government, automakers, and utility companies. Ford is working in partnership with Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), an independent nonprofit organization to continue to develop and test plug-ins and how they're going to affect the grid in the coming years.
Part of the technology that Ford has been working on is the vehicle-to-grid communications and control systems. The control system allows the operator to program the vehicle charging station to recharge the vehicle during off-peak hours, when rates are cheaper. It also allows the car owner to tell the car how long to charge for. Ford announced they now have such a system.
When the vehicle plugs in, the plug-in hybrid will communicate directly with the smart grid via smart meters through wireless networking. The owner can then use the touch screen to make the most informed choices on when and how long to charge the vehicle.
Ford is working with utility companies across North America to develop the smart grid and smart meters to work with their plug-in hybrids.
Ford is partnering with utility companies across North America including:
- Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
- U.S. Department of Energy
- Southern California Edison
- New York Power Authority
- Consolidated Edison of New York
- American Electric Power of Columbus, Ohio
- Alabama Power of Birmingham, Ala.; and its parent, Atlanta-based Southern Company
- Progress Energy of Raleigh, N.C.
- DTE Energy of Detroit
- National Grid of Waltham, Mass.
- Pepco Holdings
- New York State Energy and Research Development Authority, a state agency
- Hydro-Quebec, the largest electricity generator in Canada
Ford has two grants from the Department of Energy to help it on its way. The first grant is for $30 million and is used to help fund Ford's collaboration with utility partners across the nation with an expansion of a vehicle demonstration and grid integration program.
Ford is also set to receive a $62.7 million DOE grant for production of an electric-drive transaxle that could be used for hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles at Ford's Van Dyke transmission manufacturing facility in Sterling Heights, Mich. This grant will be matched by Ford.
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.
Ford plans to invest nearly $14 billion in advanced technology vehicles in the next seven years, retooling its U.S. plants more quickly to produce fuel-efficient vehicles and help meet the new, rigorous fuel economy requirements.