CES2013: Ford, Eaton, SunPower and Whirlpool Team Up for Electric Energy Initiative

CES2013: Ford, Eaton, SunPower and Whirlpool Team Up for Electric Energy Initiative

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Utilities turning to off-peak rates

Most of today’s residential electrical load on the grid occurs in the daytime hours. Electrical utilities need to ensure this daytime peak demand load does not exceed their supply capacity. Consequently, utilities in many parts of the country offer reduced energy rates for off-peak usage as a way to incentivize customers to shift their usage patterns to nighttime or early-morning hours. Discounted off-peak hours are typically between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. Off-peak pricing is normally around half as much as on-peak, but peak pricing can be as much as 10 times higher than off-peak in some parts of the country.

Examples of household electrical loads that could be shifted to off-peak hours via an automated or controlled mobile app include charging a plug-in vehicle, running a dishwasher, running a hot water heater, running the refrigerator’s defrost cycle and ice-making.

Additionally, data from electric utilities indicate their power generation mix is based on a higher percentage of clean/renewable energy sources during off-peak hours. Therefore, a family can reduce their CO2 footprint even further by off-peak electricity usage.

Value charging in MyEnergi Lifestyle

Ford’s own off-peak electric usage technology – value charging – is available on all Ford plug-in vehicles, including C-MAX Energi, Fusion Energi and Focus Electric, via the MyFord® Mobile app. Value charging is a unique feature that harnesses the power of cloud computing to automatically charge the vehicle when utility rates are lowest, thus helping to minimize the cost to charge the vehicle and the potential ownership costs of an electric vehicle.

Drivers just need to enable a single setting in the app and then plug their cars in without worrying about what time the rates change in their area. The network monitors utility rate schedules and automatically transmits a signal to the vehicle through embedded cellular connectivity to start charging at the lowest cost.

Ford is the only automaker to offer the value charging feature and is working with other companies to allow access to its proprietary database of utility rates – thus enabling similar value charging functionality to all representative associate products.

The power of choice

Value charging is just one example of the efficiency Ford’s new electrified vehicles can provide owners. The all-new Ford C-MAX Energi is highlighted in MyEnergi Lifestyle and is America’s most fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid with an EPA-estimated 108 MPGe city and 100 MPGe combined rating – 5 MPGe better than Toyota Prius plug-in. C-MAX Energi is America’s most affordable plug-in hybrid with a starting price of $29,995, after a federal tax credit and including destination and delivery costs.

C-MAX Energi is part of Ford’s overall strategy to give customers the power of choice for leading fuel economy across the lineup. Ford will offer eight vehicles that deliver 40 mpg or better in 2013 – more than any other automaker. This includes six all-new electrified vehicles – three hybrids and three plug-in vehicles.

Ford’s new electrified vehicles are equipped with innovative technologies that are designed to help win over both novice and experienced hybrid owners while giving them coaching tools to be more efficient drivers.

SmartGauge® with EcoGuide, for example, provides in-vehicle customizable displays, including instantaneous fuel economy readings and coaching functions to help drivers understand and optimize their fuel efficiency.

EV+ combines the built-in GPS of Ford SYNC® with proprietary software algorithms developed by Ford engineers to learn frequent destinations. As a result, vehicles give drivers more drive time in electric-only mode.

EV mode allows a driver to switch vehicle operation between three modes: all-electric, normal hybrid operation and conserve battery power for later use mode. This new feature debuted on the C-MAX Energi and will be featured on Fusion Energi.

More information about C-MAX Energi can be found here.

This is a very interesting initiative on Ford’s part.  I intend to dig a little deeper on the initiative this week during my CES booth visit, so stay tuned for updates!