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Ford Testing Car-To-Grid Communications For Plug-in Hybrids

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Ford's Focus-based Battery Electric Vehicle

Ford's Focus-based Battery Electric Vehicle

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It's one of the primary concerns of the electric-vehicle revolution: how do we charge so many cars, and still keep that electricity (relatively) inexpensive? Ford hopes it may have an answer in the form of its new vehicle-to-grid communication technology.

Allowing the owner to program the car's recharge cycle - including overall duration and the utility rate - the system could theoretically save money by tapping the grid during low-demand periods when electricity is abundant and cheap, all in an automated process. 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.

“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," said Greg Frenette, Ford's manager of Battery Electric Vehicle Applications.

Fortunately many other carmakers are also working to develop solutions in the field. Finding ways to come to an industry standard may become essential, as a proliferation of different, mutually incompatible charging methods could be just as bad as  none at all.

Over 75,000 miles of plug-in hybrid testing and years of research have gone into the development of Ford's plans for commercialization of hybrid cars, and the new intelligent charging technology comes as the company prepares for release of its pure-electric Transit Connect van in 2010 and the first Ford electric passenger car, a battery-powered version of the Focus, for 2011. Plug-in hybrid and hybrid electric vehicles will then follow in 2012.

[Ford]

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Comments (5)
  1. In the absence of smart grids, plug-in cars will also come with their own, simpler software to allow charging at pre-set times (e.g. midnight to 6 am) when utilities often have their cheapest rates. Very much like setting appliances to operate in the wee hours.
     
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  2. Good point, John. But what happens when everyone sets their cars to charge midnight to 6a and then there's a price spike due to the flood of demand? I guess that's what Ford is hedging against with this technology.
    Of course that's irrelevant until there are enough of plug-in/electric cars to cause a spike in total consumption in off-peak hours.
     
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  3. Actually, the very solid and well-respected study done jointly by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) basically concluded that the growth in demand will be so gradual that utilities have nothing to worry about.
    One electric car charging is roughly the load of 5 plasma TVs, and no one's freaking out about plasma TVs taking down the grid or causing demand spikes. Moreover, night charging will be heavily incented by utilities because keeping their equipment operating in the demand trough actually helps them.
    More on the study here:
    http://www.greencarreports.com/blog/1019159_how-green-is-that-plug-in-depends-where-you-plug-it-in
     
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  4. this is just one more news article that disproves another baseless myth about electric vehicles- not to mention that as the demand for electricity grows, so will the grid. Electric cars are safe, clean, and efficient. And, with electric cars we can save our economy (using domestic energy, lowering our trade deficit, building jobs), while also helping reduce pollution. Electric cars are the future- as soon as affordable ones are on the market. For an insightful, readable, and eye-opening introduction to the benefits and history of electric cars, I recommend the book "Two Cents Per Mile" by Nevres Cefo. Did you know that electric cars have been driving on u.s. roads for over a decade? (check out the Toyota RAV4-ev!). Check out http://www.twocentspermile.com and http://bit.ly/2centsbook to learn more
     
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  5. The vehicle-to-grid communication technology is helping the battery serve as a storage to prevent the costly blackout standing at about $90 to 100bn per year. That means utilities are shedding cost for additional storage facilities and ratepayers are selling electricity for peak hours so that EVs can make more economic sense, as we know.
    It is also in the best interest of electricity utilities that EVs are going mainstream, thereby they need to put in charge stands where needed around highways, major roads with card readers or cell phone tech.
     
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