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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Ford intends to use Microsoft software to schedule charging

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Ford intends to use Microsoft software to schedule charging

BY JUSTIN HYDE

FREE PRESS WASHINGTON STAFF

The CEOs of Ford and Microsoft announced Wednesday the companies would work together on software to manage how electric vehicles charge, aiming to shift any extra demand away from peak hours.

While there won't be very many electric vehicles on the road for a couple of years, automakers, utilities and the Obama administration have expressed concerns about the effects on overtaxed power systems if sales of plug-in hybrids and electric cars take off.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally said the automaker was aiming to use an updated version of Microsoft's Hohm software when it launches an electric Ford Focus next year. Hohm is a Web-based program that keeps track of household energy use, and Mulally said it could eventually automatically schedule charging for off-peak hours.

The system "should ensure customers and utilities have the tools they need to conserve energy and save money," Mulally said.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said Hohm would take data from utilities and combine it with the charging demands from an electric vehicle to solve "the process of where and when and how" to recharge.

Electric utilities have been generally enthusiastic supporters of automakers' push toward battery-powered vehicles -- as long as they charge overnight, rather than during the day.

A study released last week by a group of electric wholesalers covering two-thirds of the U.S. and Canada forecast that plug-in hybrids could boost electric demand by 10% in some areas if all were charging during peak hours. If recharging was spread throughout the day, the study found minimal boosts in energy demand.

link:

http://www.freep.com/article/20100401/BUSINESS01/4010433/1331/Ford-intends-to-use-Microsoft-software-to-schedule-charging

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