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Ford/Edison Media Roundup: CALSTART/USAToday/Reuters/GreenCarCongress/EVWorld/AP/Blogs
Jul 10, 2007 (From the CalCars-News archive)
CalCars-News
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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News overload? Search for Ford Edison at Google News and get 340 stories. Ford Southern California Edison plug" at Google Blog Search brings 1360 postings.

We're making your life easier with excerpts from leading sources about the Ford/Southern California Edison partnership: CALSTART NewsNotes, USA Today, Reuters, GreenCarCongress, EVWorld AP, the Addicted To Oil Campaign, and photos from Edmunds and MotorTrend. (Notably, the Wall Street Journal hasm't reported on the story, and The New York Times has the Reuters report on its website but not in print.)

Our excerpts begin with a summary of what's important, then follow with unique elements or quotes. And we've highlighted the Rashomon-like phenomenon in which many people heard differently when Ford would deliver its PHEVs to SCE.

WestStart/CALSTART NEWSNOTES picked up that the 20 PHEVs will be produced not at the start but by "close of 2009," and provided details on what Ford is hoping for from partners. http://www.calstart.org/­dailynewsnotes/­daily_nns_detail.php?id=9086 Ford and SoCal Edison Team Up to Develop PHEVs

2007-07-09 One converted Ford Escape Hybrid will be delivered by year's end according to Mulally, with 20 more ready for testing by the close of 2009. What makes this partnership unique is the evaluation of the PHEV "systems as a whole system...to investigate and figure out how to commercialize PHEVs," said Mulally.... NewsNotes spoke with Ford's vice president of Sustainability, Environment and Safety, Susan M. Chiscke about the policy barriers and she said, "We're looking to the government and partners for capital investments and incentives to get the battery technologies and suppliers the resources they need, especially lithium-ion battery technologies, where they need to be to make this affordable and safe for our customers." SoCal Edison has the country's largest fleet of battery-powered vehicles on the roads today, with 300 vehicles and 14 million road miles logged and aims to put five million "smart" meters in homes for vehicles by 2012.

USA TODAY
confirmed that Ford sees PHEVs as high priority for R&D, not production, and quotes Ford CEO Mulally as saying the 5-10 year prediction is for the industry, not Ford. The story includes a provocative statement about PHEVs' "inevitability" from a venerable auto industry analyst weighing in, as far as we know, for the first time. Jack Nerad, executive editorial director and market analyst for Kelley Blue Book's website. Nerad often appears on the History Channel's "AutoMania;" he has co-hosted for 10 years the most-listened-to auto-related radio program in the country, "America on the Road;" and he is motoring correspondent on ESPN's "Cold Pizza" program. The book cited is due for publication August 7 (we don't know if it includes anything about PHEVs).

Ford wades its way into plug-in hybrids By Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY June 9, 2007 http://www.usatoday.com/­money/­autos/­environment/­2007-07-09-ford-plugin-hybrids_N.htm?csp=34

ROSEMEAD, Calif. - Ford Motor's (F) CEO said Monday that the automaker is joining rivals who are trying to develop plug-in vehicles.

CEO Alan Mulally said gas-electric hybrids that can be plugged in to charge their batteries overnight are a "high priority" for his research and development staff....He predicted that the industry will see plug-in hybrids, which combine electric motors with gasoline engines, in showrooms within five to 10 years. But he was careful not to commit Ford to production of them - only research for now - because the technology is in its early stage.

Ford's entry in the plug-in race was inevitable, says Jack Nerad of automotive website KBB.com and author of the coming Complete Idiot's Guide to Hybrids and Alternative Fuel Vehicles. "Everyone is moving that same direction," Nerad says. "Nobody wants to be left at the bus stop."

Ford plans to give Edison 20 hybrid Escapes that have been modified to be plugs-ins. The utility, in turn, plans to place them with average customers to monitor their performance being charged at home for use in regular service.

John Bryson, CEO of the utility's parent, Edison International(EIX), said he thinks a melding of the automotive and electrical industries is "very, very likely" because cheaper, lower-pollution power is such a strong lure as oil prices climb. Utilities need to become more involved in fostering the conversion, he said.

REUTERS
implies that Ford CEO Mulally says the 5-10-year timeline for selling PHEVs is about Ford cars--with an escape hatch if the batteries aren't good enough. The report includes a comment from the Freedom From Oil campaign (by Rainfoest Action Network and Global Exchange). Here's a bit more from them: "Plug-in vehicles, which use proven technology that is capable of achieving over 100 miles per gallon, make the U.S. Senate's goal of 35 miles per gallon by 2020 seem painfully conservative. We are encouraged by what appears to be a sincere effort by Ford and Southern California Edison to chip away at the auto industry's longstanding relationship with Big Oil. By being the first automaker to put a plug-in hybrid on the road, Ford is leaving its competitors in the dust." See the entire statement at http://ran.org/­media_center/­news_article/­?uid=2377.

Ford, So Cal Ed to test plug-in hybrids Mon Jul 9, 2007 7:39PM EDT By Bernie Woodall (Additional reporting by Poornima Gupta in Detroit) http://www.reuters.com/­article/­scienceNews/­idUSN0931005820070709

ROSEMEAD, California (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co. on Monday announced a partnership with utility Southern California Edison to test a fleet of rechargeable electric vehicles and said it expected to sell such plug-in hybrids within the next decade if battery technology keeps pace. "Within five to 10 years we will start to see this technology in our hands," Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally said at the event. When asked if that meant plug-in hybrids would be available on showroom floors, Mulally said yes. He declined to give a more precise production target, saying: "I can't go further than that. We will know a lot more in the next few years."

The remarks were the first time the No. 2 U.S. automaker has offered a timeline for producing plug-in hybrid vehicles, which many environmental advocates see as the best available technology to reduce gas consumption and greenhouse gas emissions... Mulally cautioned the commercial rollout of the still experimental vehicles depends on advances in battery technology, an assessment shared by other rival automakers.

"Consumers have been waiting a long time for an automaker to offer the next generation of ultra-fuel-efficient, gasoline- optional cars," said environmental groups Rainforest Action Network and Global Exchange Campaign in response to Ford's announcement....

GREENCARCONGRESS
points out that the announcement and press conference left open important details, such as whether the small fleet of converted Escape PHEVs would be equipped with the bi-directional controllers necessary to fully test vehicle-to-grid operation. Hybrid/PHEV expert Jack Rosebro's report also emphasizes the long time-frames expected by both sides of the partnership. And he adds a great historical note about Henry Ford and Thomas Edison! His posting (which also links to our analysis posted yesterday at CalCars-News) has accumulated several dozen comments in a few hours.

Ford and Edison Partner on Plug-In Hybrids 9 July 2007 by Jack Rosebro http://www.greencarcongress.com/­2007/­07/­ford-and-edison.html

Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally and Edison International CEO John Bryson announced today that Ford is partnering with Edison subsidiary Southern California Edison in a multi-year, multimillion dollar project to, in Mulally's words, "investigate and figure out how to commercialize plug-in hybrids." Ford will supply twenty stock Escape hybrid SUVs to Southern California Edison, to be placed with "average consumers." After real-world baseline data is collected from the vehicles, Ford will convert the Escapes to plug-in hybrids with lithium-ion battery packs from an unnamed battery supplier, then return them to consumers for comparison testing.

Holding up a standard 110V extension cord, Bryson stated "We need to make the future as simple as this...[Electricity] is the only alternative fuel with an infrastructure that has already been built." Mulally added that "for the first time, we are going to look at the total energy system as a system." Although both men stated that the project is designed in part to investigate vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, they did not specifically confirm whether the project vehicles will be V2G-capable. However, Edison envisions "smart plug-in hybrid vehicles "as part of "an integrated smart home and grid energy system of the future," and the two companies also plan to explore the potential residual value of PHEV battery packs when utilized for bulk energy storage, possibly in the home, after the packs reach the end of their usable life in a vehicle.

Both men cited barriers to the commercialization of PHEVs: Mulally remarked that "we have a lot of regulatory and public policy issues to address," while in response to the inevitable "when will PHEVs be sold?" question, Bryson opined "I think that's a decade down the road." Mulally put the timeframe for the industry at five to ten years, and added that Ford sees PHEVs as a bridge to an all-electric fleet.

Asked if a convergence between the electric utility and transportation industries is inevitable, Bryson emphatically stated "Yes," then qualified the statement as currently more of a hope than a reality. Ed Kjaer of Southern California Edison added that SCE plans to equip all five million of its users with smart meters by 2012.

Mulally cited the project as a convergence of "the great names of Ford and Edison." Henry Ford was once Thomas Edison's chief engineer, and the two remained friends after Ford left to build his own empire.

EVWORLD
Editor Bill Moore's "Insider Commentary" -- available to those who support this worthy publication by becoming subscribers at $29/year -- brings the perspective that the big news is that electrification of transportation is taking center stage.

Ford and SCE Pursue New Energy and Transportation Vision http://www.evworld.com/­general.cfm?page=insider&nextedition=114

The announcement today that Ford and Southern California Edison are going to collaborate on a multi-million dollar, multi-year study of the feasibility of grid-interactive hybrids -- where power is exchanged intelligently between the vehicle and the grid -- seems to me just as profound as GM's announcement in January that it was developing a range-extended electric car, the Volt. The two companies will work together to explore the role "smart" plug-in hybrids may play in improving the productivity and reliability of the grid, as well as how they can be integrated into the "smart homes" of the future. What's exciting here is that an American car company appears to have caught the vision of a post-petroleum world where transportation and energy converge. I am sure there have been and are visionaries in both the utility and auto industry who have quietly championed this concept, but today's announcement would seem to be the catalyst for actively exploring the fringes of that future.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
puts the delivery date for 20 PHEVs somewhere in 2009. It describes manufacturers as "racing to bring the technology to market." And it quotes Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Jon Wellinghoff, who coined the term "Cash-Back Hybrids" to describe payments to car-owners for putting their batteries on the power grid.

Ford, California power company join to develop plug-in hybrids By ALEX VEIGA AP Business Writer 07/09/2007 AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher and Associated Press Writer David Runk, both in Detroit, contributed to this report. http://www.mercurynews.com/­breakingnews/­ci_6335900

LOS ANGELES-Ford Motor Co. and Southern California Edison hope to speed mass production of rechargeable hybrid vehicles with a new partnership that tests the technology and gauges how well drivers take to the vehicles....

"Right now we have a lot to learn," said Susan M. Cischke, a Ford senior vice president, following the official announcement. "There's a lot of battery development that still needs to be done."

The Detroit-based automaker will deliver as many as 20 plug-in vehicles to the California utility by some time in 2009, she said....

Many automakers have plug-in hybrids that are similar to Ford's experimental vehicles, but mass production has been held back by costs and battery technology that limit the vehicles' range. Manufacturers are racing to bring the technology to market as consumers seek alternatives to traditional engines and high gasoline prices.

Ford, Cischke said, already is testing two plug-in hybrids in its Dearborn labs that are based on the Escape small sport utility vehicle, a model that Ford offers as a gas-electric hybrid. Still, Cischke said it could be anywhere between five or 10 years before rechargeable hybrid vehicles become more widely produced. "It all depends on the battery development," she said....

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is interested in the tests because plug-in hybrid batteries could reduce the need for additional generators. The batteries could store electricity generated at off-peak hours and feed it back to power companies during peak use times, Commissioner Jon Wellinghoff said Monday. "If you could have thousands or millions of plug-in hybrids providing these services instead, you could take generators out of that role," Wellinghoff said. It's possible that power companies could pay hybrid owners for the power, he said.

See photos of the two CEOs at blogs from EDMONDS http://www.edmunds.com/­insideline/­do/­News/­articleId=121640#3 MOTOR TREND
http://blogs.motortrend.com/­6212207/­green/­ford-partners-with-electric-company-to-study-plug-in-hybrids/­

And for a laugh, the postings at http://www.drudge.com/­news/­96373/­fordplug-hybrid-possible-5-10-yrs

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