Talk about your “conversation starters.” Ford has developed an intelligent vehicle-to-grid communications and control system for its demonstration electric vehicles including plug-in hybrids that “talks” directly with the grid. This new technology – which builds on Ford’s connectivity technology 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. All 21 of Ford’s fleet of plug-in hybrid Escapes will be equipped with the vehicle-to-grid communications technology for testing and to gather real world usage data. The first of the specially equipped plug-in hybrids has been delivered to American Electric Power of Columbus, Ohio. Ford’s other utility partners’ vehicles will also be equipped with the communications technology.
The intelligent interface
When plugged in, the battery systems of these specially equipped plug-in hybrids can communicate directly through wireless networking with the electrical grid via smart meters provided by utility companies. The owner uses the vehicle’s touch screen navigation interface and Ford Work Solutions in-dash computer to choose when the vehicle should recharge, for how long and at what utility rate. For example, a vehicle owner could choose to accept a charge only during off-peak hours between midnight and 6 a.m. when electricity rates are cheaper, or when the grid is using only renewable energy such as wind or solar power.
Over the past two years, Ford and its energy industry partners have logged more than 75,000 miles on the plug-in hybrid test fleet – that’s the equivalent of driving around the world at the equator three times. The plug-in hybrid research focuses on four primary areas: battery technology, vehicle systems, customer usage and grid infrastructure. Real-world usage and laboratory research is helping to accelerate the advancement of electrified vehicles. Ford and its research partners are now focusing on ways to make the recharging process easy and efficient for consumers. In addition to low-cost recharging at home through the use of a smart meter, Ford researchers say recharging away from home – whether at work, in a shopping mall parking lot or at a curbside station – needs to be as simple as plugging in and swiping a credit card. Ford has previously announced it will launch 4 new electric vehicles within the next 3 years including;
- Battery electric Transit Connect small commercial van in 2010
- Battery electric Ford Focus in 2011
- Next generation hybrid in 2012
- Plug-in hybrid vehicle in 2012
QUOTES “Electric vehicles are an important element of our strategy for improving fuel economy and reducing CO2 emissions. This vehicle-to-grid communication technology is an important step in the journey toward the widespread commercialization of electric vehicles.” – Bill Ford, Ford’s executive chairman
“We are designing what plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles will be capable of in the future. Direct communication between vehicles and the grid can only be accomplished through collaboration between automakers and utility companies, which Ford and its partners are demonstrating with this technology.” – Greg Frenette, manager of Ford’s Battery Electric Vehicle Applications
“Broad commercialization of electric transportation is not something a car company can achieve on its own. Developing and producing the vehicles is just one part of the electric transportation equation. We are well on our way to delivering the vehicles, but for widespread adoption the infrastructure to support the technology needs to be in place and we need to ensure that the national electric grid can support increased electric demand.” – Nancy Gioia, Ford director, Sustainable Mobility Technologies
“Ford’s involvement in the collaboration with EPRI and some of the nation’s leading utilities will help accelerate the pace leading to the commercialization of PHEVs. This type of joint effort between an auto manufacturer and utilities will permit a more seamless integration of electric-drive vehicles into the power grid and the transportation sector.” – Arshad Mansoor, vice president of EPRI’s Power Delivery and Utilization Sector.