Ford, Microsoft Announce Energy Partnership

Automaker is counting on home energy management service to make electric hybrid cars more attractive to consumers

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

The world’s largest auto manufacturers trotted out their latest and most innovative creations at the New York International Auto Show, Wednesday. Among the numerous unveilings, Ford announced its partnership with Microsoft as the U.S. automaker rolls out its effort in developing smart-grid technology for its line of vehicles.

The Hohm, a home energy management service, was first launched by Microsoft last year. Ford will integrate the system into its vehicle line starting with the Focus Electric next year and two other unnamed hybrids by 2012 and 2013. They system will help owners determine the most efficiently and affordable time to recharge the vehicle, which can be a cost incentive for consumers.

“Ford and Microsoft both share a strong commitment to contributing to a better world. Today, we begin the next major step in our working together and leading the way for energy efficiency and environmental sustainability,” said Alan Mulally, Ford Motor Co. president and CEO. “For Ford, this is a needed step in the development of the infrastructure that will make electric vehicles viable.”

Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer said as the electric vehicle market expands it will have a significant impact on home energy consumption and demand for smart grid technology. With the launch of Hohm, consumers will have more control over managing the their electricity usage.

According to Microsoft, “If you add an electric vehicle to a household, it becomes the single largest consumer of electricity in the home.” The venture seeks to address the challenge of how the demand for energy is managed in “a smart and affordable way.”

What do you think Ford’s integration of Microsoft’s Hohm technology? Is this latest development an extra incentive to purchase a hybrid vehicle? Which automaker is ahead of the pack when it comes to eco-friendly vehicles?

Check out our slideshow of vehicles at the auto show, which runs April 2-11 at the Jacob Javits Center.

Renita Burns is a staff writer at Black Enterprise.

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