AUSTIN -- Ford Motor Company and Austin Energy have announced a collaboration to help prepare the Austin area for the operation of electric vehicles. Ford and Austin Energy will work together to develop consumer outreach and education programs on electric vehicles as well as share information on charging needs and requirements to ensure the electrical grid can support the necessary demand.
“Ford has a plan to bring five new electrified vehicles to market over the next two years to provide a variety of automobile options to the meet the wide range of driving needs consumers have and demand,” said Chris Pick, Manager of Vehicle Electrification and Infrastructure, Ford Motor Company. “There is clearly an excitement for electric vehicles in the Austin area. To support the roll out and acceptance of these vehicles in Austin and across the country, it is crucial to work with local utilities, like Austin Energy, to make sure the necessary infrastructure and demand on the grid are ready.”
Ford and Austin Energy also plan to work with state and local officials around permitting and regulations to support electric vehicle infrastructure. An easy charging station permitting process is considered one of the keys to electric vehicle acceptance in the Austin area, Texas and across the country.
“Austin Energy is working aggressively to have a pilot program in place by the end of the this year where the utility will provide a home charging station and other benefits to vehicle owners in it’s service territory for a small monthly subscription fee” said Austan Librach, Director, Emerging Transportation Technologies for Austin Energy.
The utility has set up five internal staff efforts to get the City ready for Plug-In electric vehicles. First, there is a group working to establish a grid of public charging stations throughout the area so that people will be able to top off their batteries conveniently. A second effort is geared to updating Austin’s building codes and adjusting the permitting process so that vehicle owners will be able to work with the city to have a charging station placed in their garage with no more than a two-day turn-around. In addition, Austin Energy is working nationally on the vehicle communication software to help the utility/customer schedule the best time for charging and has several other groups considering the development of business models, marketing and outreach. Overall, the utility has created a transportation roadmap and timeline to be ready by 2012 for plug-in electric vehicles when they show up at dealer’s showrooms in the Austin region.
The collaboration between Ford and Austin Energy is part of a nationwide outreach by the automobile manufacturer to educate consumers about what to expect from electrified automobiles and what is needed from the public and private sector to support this new technology.
Over the next two years, Ford will introduce the Transit Connect Electric small commercial van, the Ford Focus Electric passenger car, two third generation lithium-ion battery hybrids (2012) and a plug-in hybrid (2012).
These vehicles will achieve breakthrough efficiency; some, like the pure battery electric vehicles Ford Transit Connect Electric and Ford Focus Electric, will use no gasoline at all.
Electrification is an important piece of Ford’s overall product sustainability strategy that includes a range of fuel efficient and alternative fuel technologies including EcoBoost engines, six speed transmissions, power assisted steering, aerodynamic improvements and light weighting materials. Ford’s electrification strategy also leverages the most fuel-efficient powertrains, the most technically competent hybrids and our global vehicle platforms in order to develop affordable choices for consumers.