Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Microsoft and Ford collaborate on electric vehicle energy management

Microsoft Logo Ford and Microsoft are teaming up to implement the Microsoft Hohm energy management application for Ford’s electric vehicles, starting with the Focus Electric next year.

The idea is that Hohm will help owners determine when and how to most efficiently and affordably recharge electric vehicles.  It should also help utility companies manage the added demands of electric vehicles on the grid.

A concept image showing the Ford-Microsoft Hohm system in a Ford 
vehicle. The system is designed to help electric vehicle owners optimize
 their vehicle recharging needs and better manage their home’s energy 

Alan Mulally, Ford Motor Company president and CEO said: “For Ford, this is a needed step in the development of the infrastructure that will make electric vehicles viable.”

The press release quotes an Accenture survey that 42% of consumers say they are likely to buy a hybrid or electric vehicle in the next two years.  (Seems unlikely, but Ford is planning to put five new electrified vehicles on the road in North America and Europe by 2013).  But the mass market is not going to happen if the infrastructure is not in place to support charging the vehicles and Hohm is a key to that infrastructure.

Microsoft’s Hohm, which I reported on last year, is a free solution designed to provide users with insight into their energy usage patterns and recommend actions to reduce usage.




This may sound trivial, but putting an energy management application in an electric car represents an essential piece in a jigsaw, with the potential to have a profound impact on both consumers and utility companies.  This is all about having the energy ‘ecosystem’ in place to make the electric vehicle market viable.

Plugging in a car can double the energy use of a household, so choosing the cheapest time will be essential, which is where smart meters and energy management systems like Hohm will help. Utility companies will need to manage significant increases in demand, so are likely to adjust tariffs to spread the load, making re-charging times a significant decision.  For example, wind-generated power will be on line 24-hours a day, so overnight charging is an ideal solution (in fact electric vehicles are seen as a primary storage resource for future wind-generated energy). 

But it won’t work unless consumers have the information to act on.  You can see the attraction to Microsoft, since it represents a new route to consumer use.

© The Green IT Review

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