Intelligent Communications for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles

By Ford Social Member

As the industry advanced in plug-in electric vehicle technology, Ford Motor Company brings is developing an intelligent vehicle-to-grid communications and control system for these vehicles that "talks" directly with the nation's electric grid. The advantage of this technology is that it allows the vehicle operator 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 Bill Ford, Ford's executive chairman.  "This vehicle-to-grid communication technology is an important step in the journey toward the widespread commercialization of electric vehicles."

All 21 of Ford's fleet of plug-in hybrid Escapes eventually will be equipped with the vehicle-to-grid communications technology.  The first of the specially equipped plug-in hybrids has been delivered to American Electric Power of Columbus, Ohio.  Ford's other utility partners' vehicles will also be equipped with the communications technology.

When plugged in, the battery systems of these specially equipped plug-in 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 Ford Work Solutions in-dash computer to choose when the vehicle should recharge, for how long and at what utility rate.

For example, a vehicle owner could choose to accept a charge only during off-peak hours between midnight and 6 a.m. when electricity rates are cheaper, or when the grid is using only renewable energy such as wind or solar power.

This new technology builds on Ford's advancements such as SYNC® , SmartGaugeTM with EcoGuide and Ford Work SolutionsTM .
Robert Lynch 02/07/2010
I just returned from an unvieling of a electric car charger made by coulomb Technologies.
It is limited in charging ability and sells for over $6,450, plus installation. Do you have an
alternative? We propose to establish EV Islands, that offer recharging, plus using solar
and wind to generate some elect. to help control some of our costs. We have 15 years
experience with NG vehicles and Propane vehicles. We could offer these at the same
islands. Our Solar panels look like Patio covers, and are very cosmetic. The Wind
Tubines while producing very small amounts of electricty, attract attention and show
where we are going "Green" any input and suggestions? I read about the device
that Ford plans to put on each engine to adjust time for charging, timing to cut
costs, etc, would this put us out of business? Bob Lynch SAE since 1990
Energy Engineer, 15 years.Thinking out of diapers, 75 years.
Philip 12/21/2009
I don't really see the benefit of electric cars. I have heard it presented as fact ( via some TV "documentary") thqt the US still burns coal as 60% of the fuel base. Electric cars are simply dumping more load on the grid. Futhermore electricity is primarily generated via coal or natural gas. It would be more economical to simply compress natural gas for commuting vehicles. If however that power is generated by off grid power, you'd have genuine savings. OTOH, electric cars will become much more viable once gas prices are $12-$15 per gallon, which is where cap and tax will place us. Fortunately for us Governent Motors will be able to meet the the demand for short range ,under powered , electric cars.
Keith 12/17/2009
Solar, wind. The idea is create your own electricity and thus rid yourself from the trappings of paying the man for your fuel.
Mike 12/15/2009
I know this sounds great, but you really can't get energy for free like this. If you put wind turbines on your car, or next to the highway, you're actually disrupting the car's slipstream and creating drag. Since windmills are at maximum 59% efficient, a perfect design would still cause the car to use twice as much energy overcoming the extra friction as it would recover from the windmill. The only reason that normal wind power works is because the wind is generated by natural forces, and we do not have to use any energy to create the forces that spin them. 11/24/2009
Any help you can get me on getting access to foreign parts suppliers would be great (the Merkur was built in Cologne and was sold heavily in Europe, including the UK). There has to be a web-based answer to this. When I contact Ford US, they reply with some non-Ford "suppliers" who don't have anything at all. Same response, every time. Doesn't work. How do I get someone's attention on this? And you are right, seems like a good story for someone - how a well-built Ford (Merkur) keeps on running. BTW: my local Ford dealer (Henry Curtis Ford - Petaluma) is GREAT! They continue to troubleshoot and service the car. They just cannot get any help from Ford either on parts.
Jennifer Moore 11/22/2009
Stephen - Our first electric vehicle will debut in late 2010 - it will be a Transit Connect pure battery electric vehicle, a small commercial van. In 2011 we will bring out the Focus battery electric vehicle - thats the passenger car and presumably the kind of vehicle that would appeal to you. Then in 2012 we will bring to market a plug-in hybrid vehicle (but we haven't yet announced what that will be). Yes, the federal government has indicated there will be a rebate for early adopters of these vehicles - and I understand the incentives will stay in place until certain volume levels these advanced vehicles are reached, which could take several years. We are Ford are moving quickly into the electric vehicle arena, but understand it is an emerging market and there is still much to be learned about consumer desires, charging infrastructure and a host of other issues. Good to know there are folks interested in this technology.
As for your second question - I have to defer until I can check into that one. I don't have an answer at the moment...sounds like a real testament to the Merkur that its running 21 years later -
Stephen Pavy 11/22/2009
For Jennifer Moore: there will be a $7500 federal rebate in 2010 for electric vehicles. Why won't Ford have one? Why must I go and buy a Nissan or some other brand? I am not going to pass up an opportunite to spur the industry on and receive some help. My house just went 100% solar and I don't want to use fossil fuels. I like the Ford Fusion, but it doesn't have a plug-in option. How hard is that to add?

Second question (while I have your attention): I have an 1989 Merkur Scorpio (among other vehicles) and cannot get parts any more. It is a shame. Ford stopped supporting this in the US many years ago but there are still parts available in Europe - it is just impossible to connect with the parts network there. I believe the ultimate conservation position is to not discard cars every few years and throw them away like garbage. The car has been maintained very well, it runs well and gets 25 mpg on the highway - better than most cars of its size even today. Why generate all of the additional carbon/energy footprints to replace this car when only a part is needed? Can you help? Is there anyone at Ford who cares? Is there anyone at Ford who understands that in addition to the green technology revolution, another part of the entire conservation movement is to take great care of the few things we buy and maintain them in good working order?
Chuck Case 11/21/2009
Why can't your electric cars be fitted with something like an air windmill generator? Since you already have the ablility for the wheels to produce the motion necessary to creat the power to have a perpetual motion machine, I am confined to an electric wheel chair and think I can make my chair a perpet motion machine. With alll your money and resources, You should be able to do something to save the world from global heating and reduce our dependance on foriegn oil.
Josh S 11/14/2009
And you think electricity just grows on trees? No, we have to "burn a fuel" to create it also.
Sean Rhoades 10/15/2009
Well the elctric companies are going to do what everyone else would do there going to raise rates to pay for all the technology that they have to have to make everything better. If your charging your phone or your car your still using power. If there smart and notice an increase in the off-peak times they will just make that time just as much as the rest of it. Its only practical financials.
Michele 10/13/2009
We had a 1998 Sable that only stopped running after being totaled in an accident; only regular maintenance during its lifetime. Our 2001 Focus Wagon (why not import some of the focus wagons from Europe??) and it now has 100K miles with only routine maintenance. Also, it gets 37 mpgs highway. We just bought a fusion hybrid and LOVE it; routinely get 51 mpgs city w/ 42 average city/highway. Try the 21st century ford. Good design, comfortable, affordable, and great mileage.
Q Gagnon 10/06/2009
How about a clean diesel powered Ford Escape? I love my gas powered Escape but wish it had better fuel economy. The Hybrid model doesn't have a decent towing capacity so it is useless for me.
Nick 10/01/2009
I like the idea of solar film to recharge the battery while the car is in sunlight while parked and driving. How about an air flow system that uses the air while the car is driving and have mini, windmill style generators that spin while the air rushes by them and generators on the joints of the car that spin (so when your moving the car generates energy).

When can we expect to see a car that can mostly charge itself?
Chris 10/01/2009
While "intelligent communication" is an interesting add on feature, I'd hope that it would not be a "critial path" item to getting the Escape to market. A plug-in electric vehicle which is highly reliable, with a reasonable travel distance (40+ miles), and a quick re-charge rate, at a reasonable cost should be your primary mission in helping reduce our dependency on oil and restore your market share. Options like this should come later.
Sam 09/30/2009
I thought I would add some "balance".

Thank goodness for freedom. It allows me to drive my CNG car every day, and love it every day. I am intrigued by Hybrids and Electrics, but in the meantime I pay $0.96/gallon for fuel, and have many other advantages from a near zero emissions vehicle.

BTW, I am not sure where you got that info about tanks needing to be replaced. I am sure there are some exceptions, but as a long time CNG driver well versed in the technology, I can assure you that isn't the rule.
Tim Wernicke 09/30/2009
Why doesn't Ford produce a quality compact car with a clean diesel engine? Why is VW the only one that does this in the US (other than Mercedes which is $60K)? I travel to europe frequently and they have perfected the diesel engine. Good performance and very economical.

My wife will be needing to replace her car soon but right now it's either going to be a Prius or a VW Jetta TDI.
John 09/26/2009
I'm not sure what the draw would be on highway or city driving, but you would think solar film like the military uses would make sense on the top panel(s) of the car to help with charging.
Glenn 09/25/2009
Remember you have to burn fuel to make electricity.
Scott Monty 09/25/2009
As Bill Ford always says, it's not a matter of the hardware, but the software. We can produce the cars, but ultimately we have a responsibility to the consumer. If you can't find a place to charge your vehicle while it's parked (think a variety of situations: work, home, shopping, etc.), the car is pretty much useless when it loses its charge. We need a solution that will work for the entire industry - not just Ford - so that we're able to lead the change going forward in a way that works for everyone.

You know how there are so many different charging cords for laptops and cell phones? We want to avoid this for vehicles. We need a single standard. And that takes time. We're working in partnership with suppliers, nonprofits, think tanks, utility companies and the Department of Energy to ensure that the vehicles we produce will be effectively supported by the entire infrastructure, from building to driving to maintaining.

More information on our plans and partners is available at:

Scott Monty
Global Digital Communications
Ford Motor Company
Alan 09/25/2009
CNG Compressed natural gas vehicles were marketed by Ford and many others about 10 years ago. I live in Los Angeles and the nearest station is about 8 miles from my house.

Earlier in the year we had a delivery van explode while they were refilling it. Put 3 people in the hospital. And the Fire Departments hate these vehicles. Nothing worse than going up to a burning car and having it explode. The hot metal is ripped apart and the pieces scatter some 100-200 feet, including the tank itself. Do a google search. And these tanks, when they do work have many tough issues (other than blowing up). They are pressurized, so on hotter days you don't get a good fill. As you fill them, even on a cold day, they heat up as you pump compressed gas in. To actually "Fill" the tank would involve filling it up, waiting 10-15 minutes for the tank to cool and then topping it off. Lather, rinse, repeat. And the tanks have a limited life, at which point the vehicle owner has to replace the tank with a new one, at great expense. When was the last time you bought a new gas tank for your car? Me? Never. And the worst dirty little secret of them all? The bifuel CNG vehicles require you to burn one tank of DIRTY GASOLINE each month! So even if you only wanted to use just CNG you can't. You must burn at least 12 tankfuls a year of evil gasoline.

But then the proponents of alternate energy sources rarely mention the Inconvenient Truths about the technologies that are far from perfect. They only mention the positive issues. Never a balanced discussion.

These vehicles were discontinued by Ford in late 2003-4. Right when they redesigned the most popular vehicle on the planet, the F-150. There is no CNG version of the last two generations of the F-150, it's gone the way of the EV-1. Even the GAS COMPANY is now purchasing gasoline powered trucks to use in their fleet. I saw one just the other day. No CNG for the new Gas companies vehicles.

Let the marketplace dictate which fuel I choose to use to get around, and how much I will spend. It's called Freedom. You remember that don't you, fellow Americans?
Gabriel 09/24/2009
I understand that producing vehicles is no easy task. it takes lots of collaborating etc all of this you already know. but i feel like two years is a long time from now to get an electric vehicle. is there anyway you guys can push that forward? i know im probably asking a lot, but A. im not sure my car can make it another two years and B. i want you guys to be able to compete not only against chevy but toyota.. and do you guys have a ballpark on cost? i know its still early but i figure i would ask..
Tommy P 09/24/2009
As a long time Ford Fanatic I'm really interested in driving this vehicle. Electricity here in NY city area is relatively inexpensive and I would think it would save money at the end of the month when taking the cost of fuel and engine oil changes out of the equation. I do like the idea of solar panels to help with some of the battery recharge. So we first have the Volt now the E.V. Focus..... who says we need foreign generic garbage cars. Yeah I said it and what!
Mark Schirmer 09/24/2009
I work at Ford and have some understanding of our BEV plans. In this case, it would be entirely electric drivetrain with no "generating" engine on board. Not like a VOLT, which will have a small gas engine to charge the batteries. We also sell vehicles with full hybrid systems that run the car on electricity and / or gasoline. The BEV Focus project is to create a true electric car that would have a range of approximately 80 miles. It would then need to be recharged.

Mark Schirmer
Ford Motor Company
Timothy Wiese 09/23/2009
I have been wondering this also. The average American works 8 hours a day, and during the day the car sits outside in the sun. With solar panels being as cheap as they are, and good solar panel real-estate on the roof, hood and trunk lid, why can there not be solar regeneration of the battery while the car sits in a parking lot all day, further reducing the load on the grid?
fernando 09/23/2009
i use to own a ford escort back in 1992 it give a lots of problems then i bought a honda accord no problems just basic maintaice with time i try a taurus 1996 same thing more problems like the escort wat im saying is u reputacion is just not good enough to try again i do realy like the taurus it looks very nince sportie strong but because my experience with those 2 cars i dont thing i`ll risk it againg if only you at least match hondas or hunday warranty!.
Brandon Hewett 09/23/2009
My question is does the E.V focus contain only electrical drivetrain components and run strictly on electric, or will it be similiar to the proposed Chevrolet Volt that contains an additional gasoline motor to recharge the battery for extended use?
Larry Adams 09/21/2009
Will you be adding a solar panel to the E-Focus so I can park it in the sun at the beach,market or anywhere else outside to recharge battery and extend my range aswell as lessen my out of pocket expense?
Scott Whitney 09/20/2009
I like the plug in electric vehicle, but what I want to see is a vehicle that can either: put AC power back onto the grid, or a plug in hybrid vehicle that could be used to supply power to my home if there is a local power outage. I would think you just need an inverter to convert the DC from the hybrid battery pack to AC suitable for the grid, or your home's electrical system. If the car was programmed to run in this mode, you could even have the engine start/stop on its own, only to recharge the battery pack when necessary.
Wes Wilson 09/18/2009
Why would we burn a fuel when we don't have too? It still isn't nearly as cheap as electricity and maintaining would cost way more. Not only that but it isn't clean. I know of one company that only produces electric cars. Only need to go to dealership once a year to look at brakes.
Mary Pearl 08/28/2009
Why don't you market CNG ( Compressed Natural Gas) vehicles in the US? It's safe, cheap, burns cleaner than either gasoline or Deisel and we have an abundant supply in North America.
Jennifer Moore 08/26/2009
Jim - The advantage to the consumer would be their ability to better manage their energy usage in terms of when they charge, how long they charge, whether they charge at varying rates for electricity depending on time of day. We cannot speak for what the utilities will choose to do, but many have indicated off peak charging would indeed be less expensive. As for when it will be available - please note it is in the development and testing phase - we are currently testing it out on our demonstration fleet of plug in hybrid Ford Escapes. Ford does have an aggressive electrification strategy to launch a battery electric Transit Connect small commercial van next year, battery electric Ford Focus in 2011 and yet to be identified plug in hybrid and next generation hybrids in 2012.

Jennifer Moore
Ford Motor Company
Jim Klima 08/24/2009
What is the advantage to the consumer? Will utilities lower rates to charge at off peak times? I have interruptible service on my AC now and do get a discount. It has never been a problem for me.

How close is availability? Are we getting any where near full production of hybric vehicles?