At a conference in Dearborn today with its utility and research partners, Ford announced a new intelligent vehicle-to-grid communications system. This communications strategy is a major component of the field test program that has been ongoing since late 2007. Ford is building 21 plug-in hybrid Escapes that are being tested with those utility partners. The new communication system allows drivers to program how and when the vehicles will be charged. Among other things, drivers can define the completion time for charging or desired charging rates.
When the car is plugged in to an outlet with a smart meter, the meter can provide cost and time information back to the vehicle. Based on this, the vehicle can be automatically programmed to start charging during off-peak hours. The smart meters use wireless communications to get the data about local electric rates and usage. If multiple vehicles in a neighborhood are being plugged in simultaneously, the meters can help manage the charging to prevent overloading circuits.
In the vehicle, the system is integrated into the navigation and Works Solutions systems that Ford already offers to commercial truck customers. Works Solutions includes an in-dash computer with a touch screen for the user interface. All of the PHEV test vehicles are getting the new communications system and it will likely appear on the production Transit Connect BEV next year and the Focus based EV in 2011. The press release is after the jump.