Ford, GM Working on Electric Vehicles for 2011 and 2012 Model Years

January 8, 2010

Plugging into the smart grid has been the goal of electric vehicle designers for years. Now Ford Motor Company has developed a two-way communication and control system that will enable plug-in electric vehicles to communicate with the national's electric grid via smart meters through wireless networking. Recently, Ford has received two Department of Energy grants under its fleet electrification program totally $100 million. The $30-million grant will help fund Ford's collaboration with utility partners to expand their vehicle demonstration and grid integration program, while the $62.7 million grant, matched by Ford, will be used to develop an electric-drive transaxle.

DOE grant funds also will support production of electric-drive system components at Ford supplier Magna, for the Ford Focus battery electric vehicle, as well as Johnson Controls-Saft, which will supply high-voltage batteries for Ford's plug-in hybrid vehicle in 2012.

Ford has developed the vehicle-to-grid technology that allows the vehicle operator to program when to recharge the vehicle, for how long and at what utility rate. Testing is now in progress using Ford's fleet of plug-in hybrid Escapes and vehicles operated by its utility partners.

At the same time, General Motors Corp. and the Electric Power Research Institute, a consortium of over 30 electric utilities, announced a partnership to speed the commercialization of plug-in vehicles. The partnership will form six working groups to tackle issues such as ensuring infrastructure is ready for vehicle charging, raising public awareness of electric vehicles and working with the government to ease the shift from fuel-powered cars to electric cars.

GM is planning to market two electric vehicles by late 2010, one with a 40-mile electric range and an SUV hybrid with about 10-mile electric range. The advantage of these electric-powered vehicles is costs, which GM estimates to be 1 cent per mile in off-peak periods and 2 cents at peak periods, compared with about 14 cents per mile at $4 for a gallon of fuel.

"The Chevy Volt is truly coming to life, but preparing the market for electric vehicles also requires capable partners from outside the auto industry," said Ed Peper, GM North America vice president, Chevrolet. "Momentum is building as governments, technology companies, communities and universities are increasingly working together to prepare the market for electric vehicles."