Ford, Microsoft to work on electric-car charging

Mar 31, 2010
The Audi e-tron concept electric car

(AP) -- Ford Motor Co. and Microsoft Corp. have signed a deal to work together on a computerized link between houses, electric cars and utility companies to help manage energy use.

The companies said Wednesday at the New York International Auto Show that this is the beginning of a smart system that will help utilities and customers manage energy costs and electrical generating capacity.

The system would start with the all-electric Ford Focus compact car that is scheduled to go on sale late in 2011. Called "Microsoft Hohm," it will allow utilities to vary electric rates based on the time of day. A computer would determine the best time to recharge the car at the lowest cost and the least burden on the utility's generating system.

Charging an electric car can double the energy used at a home, and utilities worry about the increased burden on their power generators. But charging the cars late at night, when appliances and other big electricity users aren't working, can help manage the load.

The companies have time to work out details of exactly how the system will work, figuring out electric rates and loads on generating systems, said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's global product development chief. Microsoft already has computer nodes for home thermostats and appliances to manage electricity use, he said.

"We're doing a lot to bring vehicles to market, but there has to be a lot of other work done from both a consumer and utility perspective to make this viable and affordable," Kuzak said Wednesday in an interview.

The system eventually will lead to homeowners being able to use their cars to power and cut costs at peak electricity use times, Ford CEO Alan Mulally said Wednesday.

"As the batteries get more capable, we'll be able to store the electricity and then actually start to move the electricity around to where you really need it," he said.

Ford says the software to charge the cars will be included at no additional cost.

Ford and Microsoft are not the first to start such an effort. Many utilities and other companies have been working on "smart home" technology for several years.

In 2008, General Motors Corp. joined with more than 30 utility companies across the U.S. to help work out electric use issues when rechargeable cars start showing up in large numbers. GM plans to begin selling the Chevrolet Volt rechargeable car in late 2010.

Besides the electric Focus, Ford plans to begin selling an all-electric Transit Connect small commercial van this year. Its plans include offering a total of five new electric or gas-electric hybrid vehicles in North America and Europe by 2013.

Ford shares were down 58 cents, or 4.4 percent, to $12.70 in afternoon trading. shares fell 30 cents to $29.47.

Explore further: London transport body to test battery-charging at bus stands

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ralph_wiggum
not rated yet Mar 31, 2010
"Microsoft Hohm"? Ouch... Did they consider "Microsoft Vampere" and "Ford-a-day Focus"?
HaveYouConsidered
5 / 5 (3) Mar 31, 2010
The idea that power stored in the car batteries can be tapped for non-car uses, like buffering the grid capacity during peak daytime loads, puts more charge/discharge cycles on the batteries--at the car owner's cost (in decreased battery life).
gunslingor1
1 / 5 (1) Mar 31, 2010
You forgot Micro-inductor and micro-schrodinger! jk.

Other companys already have this, ford and american auto manufacturers keep pretending they are "researching", but no further research is needed, only design and construction.
Heck, I do think things are accelerating in this field, FINALLY< it should have happened 40 years ago. That all being said, electric cars will actually hurt the environment more if we generate that electricy from fossil fuels. nuclear is the only current viable option for the base load, fussion is not that far off anymore.

The Chevy volt will fail by the way.
gunslingor1
1 / 5 (1) Mar 31, 2010
The idea that power stored in the car batteries can be tapped for non-car uses, like buffering the grid capacity during peak daytime loads, puts more charge/discharge cycles on the batteries--at the car owner's cost (in decreased battery life).


agreed, didn't think about that. Also, there will need to be a significant amount of user controls. I don't want to plug in my car for 30 minutes while in a massive rush only to find half my battery was drained back to the grid. Using the cars battery for peak load should ABSOLUTELY NOT BE CONSIDERED UNTIL WE HAVE ZERO FOSSIL PLANTS. It's inefficient and will only pollute more.
Bob_Kob
4 / 5 (1) Mar 31, 2010
It's inefficient and will only pollute more.


Its more efficient to have one large power plant making electricity than it is to have several million petrol engines.
HaveYouConsidered
not rated yet Apr 18, 2010
Agreed it is better to have one large power plant than millions of small gasoline engines. But we need to solve the dirty coal problem; thus far clean coal is only marketing BS and a fantasy. I suggest that rather than deep geologic sequestration of CO2 (very expensive!) we electrostatically scrub the heavy metals from the CO2 exhaust, then route the CO2 into a huge farm of greenhouses. Both the waste heat and the CO2 itself can be used to great advantage in food production rate gains. What's needed are very cheap designs and materials for the greenhouses.
SteveL
not rated yet May 26, 2010
Or route the CO2 to large bio-diesel plants. Either one is better than just pumping the carbon that has been naturally sequestured for millions of years into the atmosphere through single-cycle combustion.