If you have followed our recent articles highlighting Ford's thoughts on both battery swapping and fast charge stations, you are probably left wondering what Ford thinks will be the answer to the charging dilemma for EVs.  Well the company has an answer.  To read Ford's response to other charging options click battery swapping or fast charging.

Next year Ford will launch the BEV Transit Connect followed shortly thereafter by the Focus EV and a PHEV by 2012.  With electric vehicles in the lineup, the company has been working on its own recharging system that is designed to talk with the nation's electrical grid. 

The system was developed with the help of 10 utility companies, 2 research firms and the DOE.  The system will soon see use on the test fleet of plug-in Ford Escape that have been on the roads for some time now.

According to Ford, the system allow the driver to program various settings such as when to recharge the vehicle, the length of time to recharge for, and enter in the local rate for recharging.  The driver could program to charge the vehicle during off peak, low demand times only.  This could save the driver a significant amount on electrical costs throughout the year.

Furthermore, the system could interact with smart meters that many states are now installing in homes.  The meters tell customers when it is most economical to run appliances such as the dishwasher and washing machine.  By interacting with the smart meters, Ford's system will allow users to determine when rates are low for charging a vehicle.  The smart meter also warns users when the rates are above a preset level.

Ford believes that using electricity to charge vehicles during off peak hours will be vital as more plug-in vehicles take to the streets.  According to Ford's director of electrification Nancy Gioia, "With every PHEV or EV, when your'e plugged in, it's equal to about the whole load of a house.  So if you had a street with 10 houses and 5 of those households had plug-ins, all of the sudden it's equal to 15 houses.  We recognize the need for load leveling and the opportunity to adjust when to recharge."

Owners of future Ford EVs would have the ability to communicate with smart meters wirelessly.  This option requires no hardware or special wiring which would result in a cost effective charging solution.  The Ford system would as Gioia said, "If a customer has the hardware in their car and wirelessly connects with no fee, it's the lowest cost solution.  It's all about putting control of energy in the customer's hand."

According to Ford, the charging system is currently being perfected.  No release date has been set, nor has pricing.  Ford hopes to make the licensing for the technology available to other automakers and will work with an open architecture to assure it's compatibility with other vehicles.  Ford's system will be unique to their company, but others who buy licensing rights could write their own software for their applications.

Source:  Wards Auto  (login required)