Ford tests vehicle-to-grid communications system

Ford tests vehicle-to-grid communications system

The new technology, which builds on Ford's advancements such as SYNC®, SmartGaugeTM with EcoGuide and Ford Work SolutionsTM, enables plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to interface with the grid for optimal recharging, allowing the vehicle operator to program when to recharge the vehicle, for how long and at what utility rate.

"Electric vehicles are an important element of our strategy for improving fuel economy and reducing CO2 emissions," said Ford's executive chairman, Bill Ford, "This vehicle-to-grid communication technology is an important step in the journey toward the widespread commercialisation of electric vehicles."

Eventually, all 21 of Ford's 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 of Columbus, Ohio. Ford's other utility partners' vehicles will also be equipped with the communications technology.

When plugged in, the battery systems of these specially equipped plug-in hybrids can communicate directly with the electrical grid via smart meters provided by utility companies through wireless networking. 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 instance, a vehicle owner could choose to accept a charge only during off-peak hours, 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, with research focused on four primary areas: battery technology, vehicle systems, customer usage and grid infrastructure.

However, Nancy Gioia, Ford director of Sustainable Mobility Technologies, pointed out that developing and producing the vehicles is just one part of the electric transportation equation. Widespread adoption requires that the infrastructure to support the technology be in place and the national electric grid must be able to support increased electric demand.

Furthermore, recharging vehicles at work, in parking lots or curbside stations must be as hassle-free for the vehicle owner as recharging at home.

Ford plans to invest nearly $14 billion in advanced technology vehicles in the next seven years, retooling its US plants more quickly to produce fuel-efficient vehicles and help meet the new, rigorous fuel economy requirements.

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