Dearborn, Michigan – Ford has announced its development of an intelligent vehicle-to-grid communications and control system for its plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) vehicles that “talks” to the electric grid. The new technology allows the driver 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 executive chairman Bill Ford. “This vehicle-to-grid communication technology is an important step in the journey toward the widespread commercialization of electric vehicles.”

The first test PHEV Ford Escapes equipped with the technology have been delivered to American Electric Power of Columbus, Ohio. The company’s fleet of 21 test PHEVs will eventually be so equipped.

When plugged in, the battery systems of these 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 an in-dash computer to choose when the vehicle should recharge, for how long, and at what utility rate. Ford already offers in-dash computers in select vehicles through its Ford Work Solutions option program.

“We are designing what plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles will be capable of in the future,” said Greg Frenette, manager of Ford’s battery electric vehicle applications. “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.”

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