It’s been a while since we last heard about Ford’s plans for intelligent hybrid and electric-vehicle charging, but now the motoring giant has picked up Microsoft to help out. Microsoft Hohm sounds like it should be a Buddhist-themed April Fools prank, but it’s apparently a new energy monitoring system that will help balance load across the power grid and make for more efficient, cheaper recharges. There’s also talk of a Windows Phone 7 app – complete with a homescreen widget – though currently only at the concept stage, which could remotely inform you when your car is charging, what its battery status is and how long there is left until it’s completely topped up.
The first vehicle expected to take advantage of Hohm is the Focus Electric, though that’s not expected until sometime in 2011. It will be followed by a plug-in hybrid and two further next-gen hybrids in 2012, as well as other existing Ford, Mercury and Lincoln models on sale and in the pipeline.
Apparently recent research found that 42-percent of people said they planned to buy a hybrid or electric vehicle in the next two years, though that figure sounds a little bit ambitious to us. Hohm itself is already available online, and can be used to track domestic power consumption in the US (though not of electric vehicles).
FORD, MICROSOFT TEAM UP TO HELP ELECTRIC VEHICLE OWNERS RECHARGE MORE EFFECTIVELY, AFFORDABLY
· Ford and Microsoft are teaming up to use Microsoft Hohm as a platform to help future owners of Ford’s electric vehicles optimize the way they recharge their vehicle and better manage their home’s energy use
· Microsoft and Ford also will work with utilities and municipalities to help develop an energy ecosystem that manages energy usage as consumer demand for electric vehicles grows
· Ford’s aggressive electrification plan includes five new vehicles 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 and two next-generation hybrids in 2012, joining four Ford and Mercury hybrids already on the road and a new Lincoln MKZ Hybrid coming this fall
· The Focus Electric is expected to be the first Ford electric vehicle to use Hohm
NEW YORK, March 31, 2010 – Today, Ford Motor Company and Microsoft Corp. are leading the way toward a more energy-efficient future by announcing a new solution that will make electric vehicle ownership easier and more affordable for consumers.
The two companies are teaming up to implement the Microsoft Hohm energy management application for Ford’s electric vehicles. Ford is the first automaker announcing the use of Hohm, 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 both share a strong commitment to contributing to a better world. Today, we begin the next major step in our working together and leading the way for energy efficiency and environmental sustainability,” said Alan Mulally, Ford Motor Company president and CEO. “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. In a recent Accenture survey, 42 percent of consumers said they are likely to buy a hybrid or electric vehicle in the next two years.
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 and Microsoft agree that making energy management easy and affordable for consumers will be key to the success of electric vehicles in the marketplace as well as in creating a positive environmental impact.
“Electric vehicles will play an important role in the global effort to improve energy efficiency and address the issues of climate change and sustainability,” said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO. “But as the market for electric vehicles expands, it will have a significant impact on home energy consumption and demand across the nation’s energy grid. With Microsoft Hohm, Ford and Microsoft will deliver a solution that will make it easier for car owners to make smart decisions about the most affordable and efficient ways to recharge electric vehicles, while giving utilities better tools for managing the expected changes in energy demand.”
Introducing Hohm to Ford’s electric vehicles supports Ford’s aggressive global electrification plan, which will 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.
America’s largest domestic hybrid seller, Ford Motor Company today has four hybrids on the road and another coming this year. They include the Ford Fusion Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid, Mercury Milan Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid. Also coming this fall is the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, which is expected to be the most fuel-efficient luxury sedan in America.
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 Ford 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.
Ford and Microsoft’s participation in the Hohm program builds on the success of their decade-long partnership to provide customers with superior in-car experiences. The Ford SYNC communications and infotainment system, built on the Windows Embedded Automotive platform, has been installed on more than 2 million Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles since its launch in 2007, helping drivers connect and voice-control their mobile devices while driving.
Microsoft Hohm is available today for free to all U.S. residential energy consumers and has multiple partnerships with utilities and other stakeholders already in place. Ford is the first automaker to join in collaboration with Hohm.
Ford and Microsoft also plan to continue to work with utility partners and municipalities to help further develop the energy ecosystem. Ford’s work includes collaboration with a dozen North American energy companies to road-test a fleet of 21 Ford 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 commercialization will take broad-based collaboration and systems solutions,” said Mulally. “Working together, Ford and Microsoft will provide the systems solutions to help facilitate this exciting future.”