Microsoft and Ford unveil the Hohm energy management feature for Ford EVs

Microsoft and Ford unveil the Hohm energy management feature for Ford EVs

By Andrew Tolve

Microsoft and Ford Motor Co. unveiled a new Microsoft Hohm energy management application for Ford electric vehicles. Ford is the first automaker to announce the use of Hohm and will debut the feature with the 2011 Ford Focus. Hohm will help owners determine when and how to most efficiently and affordably recharge battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. It also should help utility companies manage the added demands of electric vehicles on the electrical grid.

In a recent Accenture survey, 42 percent of consumers said they are likely to buy a hybrid or electric vehicle in the next two years. Increasing numbers of electric vehicles will have a significant impact on energy demand, and most analysts agree that EV growth hinges on effective energy management and easy-to-use telematics. Ford wants to pave the way. The company’s aggressive global electrification plan will put five new electric vehicles on the road in North America and Europe by 2013.

“Electric vehicles will play an important role in the global effort to improve energy efficiency and address the issues of climate change and sustainability,” says Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO. “But as the market for electric vehicles expands, it will have a significant impact on home energy consumption and demand across the nation’s energy grid. With Microsoft Hohm, Ford and Microsoft will deliver a solution that will make it easier for car owners to make smart decisions about the most affordable and efficient ways to recharge electric vehicles, while giving utilities better tools for managing the expected changes in energy demand.”

The iPad goes live

Apple released its much-anticipated iPad, unleashing a flood of consumer activity. Industry analyst iSuppli projects iPad sales to reach 7.1 million units worldwide in 2010. That number will double in 2011 and nearly triple to 20.1 million by 2012, iSuppli forecasts. The iPad debut set off a frenzy among app designers as they hurry to get their iPhone apps overhauled for the new tablet interface. Numerous media sources and book vendors are expected to release apps for the iPad in the coming weeks. The Wall Street Journal became the first when it debuted the new Wall Street Journal for iPad app, which offers the look of the print Journal with some added perks, like updated news and information, full-screen video, real-time market data, and the ability to save articles and full sections.

Southwest upgrades to GPS

Southwest Airlines announced a software upgrade that allows its planes to use satellite navigation as they approach airports for landing. Southwest invested $175 million in the project. The new GPS capability in the cockpit will reduce fuel burn, noise, and delays, the company says. The software allows planes to fly closer together in time and space without sacrificing safety and enables air-traffic controllers to tailor aircraft approaches for landing. The technology will be installed in two-thirds of the company’s aircraft fleet.

EVs at the New York International Auto Show

The New York International Auto Show has a new feature this year—an Electric Vehicle Pavilion where manufacturers can debut new EVs and drivers can drive them. That’s because the Pavilion includes an indoor test track with a dozen EVs available for show-goers to try out. PEP Stations, one of the Pavilion sponsors, has lined the test track with its new EV Charging Station. The station allows EV drivers to easily recharge their cars by plugging in and swiping an access card or credit card. PEP Stations hopes the stations will spread to gas stations around the country.

Volvo Infotainment

Volvo used the New York Auto Show platform to release its 2011 S60, which features a new and improved infotainment system. A color screen is embedded in the center console and integrates information from the audio unit, navigation system, and mobile phone. All functions are controlled from the steering wheel. The car also features Pedestrian Detection technology that can detect pedestrians walking into the road in front of the car, warn the driver, and automatically apply full braking power if the driver does not respond in time.

iPhone Navigation

German mobile navigation provider Skobbler became the latest navigation company to release an iPhone navigation app to the US market. Skobbler’s turn-by-turn navigation app utilizes Openstreetmap data and offers a reporting feature that allows consumers to give feedback. Thus, the more GPS tracks users with the Skobbler app, the better the network comes. Skobbler is one of the top ten most profitable apps in the German iTunes store, where it goes for €2.99.

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to TU.

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