Future Ford PHEV's Will Talk to the Power Grid

hybrid escapeAs it stands today, the power grid is a sensitive thing. Too many people turn on the air conditioning at the same time, and the whole thing collapses. It's a problem that should ease up as smart grids and variable pricing become more common, but electric car charging still has the potential to put major strain on power sources. Ford hopes to ease that strain—and make PHEV charging easier for consumers—with its upcoming hybrid electric vehicles, including the 2012 PHEV Escape, 2010 Transit Connect commercial van, and battery electric 2011 Ford Focus.

Thank to collaborations with multiple utility partners (and a $30 million DOE grant for grid integration) the Ford vehicles can "talk" to the electric grid via wirelessly connected smart meters. Drivers use the in-dash navigational computer to decide when vehicles should recharge, for how long, and at what utility rate. So a driver could choose to charge her car in the middle of the night for 5 hours to reduce strain on the grid and keep electricity costs low. By partnering with utilities across the country, Ford hopes that drivers who purchase their vehicles in, say, New York can easily recharge in California.

The plan isn't flawless. What will happen when thousands (or millions) of drivers try to charge their EVs in the middle of the night, remains to be seen. And Ford's system also relies on the rapid and widespread adoption of smart grid technology in the next few years. Still, other companies are pursuing similar plug-in charging systems. Juice Technologies has developed a smart charging device for PHEVs that is scheduled for testing with San Diego Gas and Electric, and Gridpoint is working on its own smart charging software.

[Via Techradar]

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  • jason brookes

    this is just one more news article that disproves another baseless myth about electric vehicles- not to mention that as the demand for electricity grows, so will the grid. Electric cars are safe, clean, and efficient. And, with electric cars we can save our economy (using domestic energy, lowering our trade deficit, building jobs), while also helping reduce pollution. Electric cars are the future- as soon as affordable ones are on the market. For an insightful, readable, and eye-opening introduction to the benefits and history of electric cars, I recommend the book "Two Cents Per Mile" by Nevres Cefo. Did you know that electric cars have been driving on u.s. roads for over a decade? (check out the Toyota RAV4-ev!). Check out http://www.twocentspermile.com and http://bit.ly/2centsbook to learn more