The automaker that introduced the world's first hybrid sport-utility vehicle and the electric utility with the nation's largest and most advanced electric vehicle (EV) fleet are combining resources to explore ways to make plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles more accessible to consumers, reduce petroleum-related emissions and improve the cost-effectiveness of the nation's electricity grid.
Describing teamwork between their industries as essential to making progress on energy security and climate change, the heads of the Ford Motor Company and Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison (SCE), announced the nation's first collaboration to examine the future of PHEVs as part of a complete vehicle, home and grid energy system.
"The Ford Motor Company team is firmly focused on delivering products people really want. This unique partnership with Southern California Edison will allow us to explore new solutions for our customers' growing need for energy conservation," said Alan Mulally, president and chief executive officer of Ford. "By combining strengths, ours in hybrid technology, theirs in energy management, we can consider transportation as part of the broader energy system and work to unleash the potential of plug-in technology for consumers."
"The challenges of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing our nation's energy security reach across industry boundaries and unite us in a common cause," said John E. Bryson, chairman and chief executive officer of Edison International. "Partnerships between automakers such as Ford and electric utilities such as Edison demonstrate the innovative leadership position that both companies hold in seeking and finding solutions to global and consumer problems."
Ford and Edison intend to explore many of the potential benefits of widespread PHEV use, which include enhanced energy security, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, lower fuel costs and more cost-effective use of the nation's electricity grid.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle technologies are not yet competitive due primarily to the high cost of advanced batteries. Ford and SCE will explore whether these batteries have other uses that could reduce their cost to consumers. For example, a popular vision of plug-in hybrid automotive technology is the potential for owners to charge their vehicles in the evening when the cost to produce electricity is low, and then store and use that energy during peak hours of the day, when electricity costs are high. Advanced batteries also could store energy from rooftop solar panels more efficiently. The two companies will evaluate and model the potential economic value of such innovative uses.
Also, batteries currently have no residual value priced into the purchase cost. Ford and SCE believe it might be possible to develop a market for the untapped value present in used plug-in hybrid electric vehicle batteries at the end of their vehicle life.
And, Edison's nationally recognized Electric Vehicle Technical Center in Pomona, Calif., is testing advanced battery technologies that could further enhance the emergence of future energy storage applications in the utility industry.