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March 31, 2010

US: Ford, Microsoft, to offer EV energy management app

Ford and Microsoft are to offer the Hohm energy management application, starting with the Focus Electric next year. Hohm will help owners determine when and how to most efficiently and affordably recharge battery electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles. It also should help utility companies manage the added demands of electric vehicles on the electric grid.

Ford and Microsoft are to offer the Hohm energy management application, starting with the Focus Electric next year. Hohm will help owners determine when and how to most efficiently and affordably recharge battery electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles. It also should help utility companies manage the added demands of electric vehicles on the electric grid.

The auto and software giants previously collaborated on the acclaimed SYNC system which links Ford cars to external devices such as mobile phones and music players and mobile broadband. The communications and infotainment system, built on the Windows Embedded Automotive platform, has been installed on over 2m vehicles since launch in 2007.

“Today, we begin the next major step in our working together and leading the way for energy efficiency and environmental sustainability,” said Ford president and CEO Alan Mulally. “For Ford, this is a needed step in the development of the infrastructure that will make electric vehicles viable.”

Both companies agree that effective management of the energy ecosystem is critical for electric vehicles to be successful and for consumer interest to grow.

Increasing numbers of electric vehicles, however, will have a significant impact on energy demand. That is because the addition of an electric vehicle to a household could effectively double home energy consumption while the vehicle is charging.

Ford plans to put five new electrified vehicles on the road in North America and Europe by 2013. In North America, they include the Transit Connect Electric later this year, Focus Electric in 2011, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and two next-generation hybrids in 2012.

Life with electrified vehicles – with full battery electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles needing to be recharged daily – will require consumers to change how they think about personal transportation and energy use.

Hohm, an internet-based service, is designed to help customers avoid unnecessary expense by providing insight into their energy usage patterns and suggesting recommendations to increase conservation. With electric vehicles, Hohm also will help drivers to determine the best time to charge their vehicle. Smart recharging habits will help utility companies understand and better manage the increased demands placed upon the electric grid because of electrified vehicles.

Hohm is free to all US residential energy consumers and multiple partnerships with utilities and other stakeholders already in place. Ford is the first automaker to join in collaboration.

Ford and Microsoft also plan to continue to work with utility partners and municipalities to help further develop the energy ecosystem. The automaker’s work includes collaboration with a dozen North American energy companies to road-test a fleet of 21 Escape plug-in hybrid vehicles. The research has accumulated more than 160,000 miles of real-world data, which provided important groundwork for the new Hohm application.

“Rechargeable vehicles represent a new frontier. Their commercialisation will take broad-based collaboration and systems solutions,” said Mulally.

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