Ford Gets $10M Federal Grant for Plug-In Hybrids (PHEV)

By dancurranjr On October 6th, 2008

Ford Motor Co. will receive a $10 million grant from the U.S. Energy Department to develop plug-in hybrid vehicles and take more steps toward commercialization.

The funding being announced Tuesday will help the automaker continue to work on its demonstration fleet of 20 plug-in hybrid vehicles with a group of utilities. Under the grant, the Energy Department will cover half of the project’s $20 million cost.

“This is really aimed at figuring out how to work through what’s needed both on demonstration fleets and interface with the utilities to commercialize plug-in hybrids,” said Nancy Gioia, Ford’s director of sustainable mobility technologies and hybrid vehicle programs.

Ford is working on a fleet of Escape plug-in hybrids in a partnership with Southern California Edison, the Electric Power Research Institute, Johnson Controls-Saft Advanced Power Solutions LLC, and DTE Energy, Michigan’s largest utility.

The three-year project is helping Ford and the utilities develop vehicles that can be recharged by plugging into a standard wall outlet, learn more about proper standards for plug-ins and create a seamless interaction between the cars and the electric grid.

“If you are a customer of a plug-in hybrid, you don’t want to worry about which utility you work with, you want to drive your car across the country,” Gioia said.

As part of the plug-in project, Ford is expected to announce new partnerships with utilities around the country in the next month, along with a partnership with a Canadian utility, Gioia said.

She said the partnerships will allow Ford to understand how plug-ins would operate in warm and cold climates, in locations of higher altitudes and sunny regions where vehicles could interface with solar networks.

In the second and third years of the project, the vehicles are expected to be driven by consumers for short periods of time to provide more information to the automaker and utilities.

Gioia said Ford expects to have 11 of the 20 plug-ins built by the end of the year to participate in the project.

Source: Chicago Tribune

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