Ford Motor Company has become the first automaker to sign on with Microsoft Corporation to use the software maker's Holm energy management package to help owners of battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles manage the recharging process in the most convenient and affordable manner. The Internet-based Hohm platform also is designed to assist utility companies in optimizing management of the added demands these new vehicles are expected to place on the existing and future electric grids.
This latest partnership builds on the stunningly successful decade-long agreement between the two organizations which led to Ford's SYNC in-car communications system. Based on the Windows Embedded Automotive platform, SYNC recently passed the 2 million vehicle installation mark in various Ford/Lincoln/Mercury products and has been further updated and upgraded for the 2011 model year.
In announcing the agreement, both Microsoft and Ford said they also plan to work directly with utilities and municipalities to help develop an energy ecosystem that more manages energy usage as consumer demand for electric vehicles grows. Ford is presently collaborating with a dozen energy companies in North America using a fleet of 21 Escape Hybrid plug-ins. These vehicles have already run up over 160,000 miles of real-world service data, which served to help lay the groundwork for this FoMoCo Hohm application. The upcoming Ford Focus Electric, currently due to go on sale early in 2011, will be the first Blue Oval product to make use of Microsoft Hohm software. It is already available free of charge to residential home owners across the U.S.
"Electric vehicles will play an important role in the global effort to improve energy efficiency and address the issues of climate change and sustainability," said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO. "But as the market for electric vehicles expands, it will have a significant impact on home energy consumption and demand across the nation's energy grid. With Microsoft Hohm, Ford and Microsoft will deliver a solution that will make it easier for car owners to make smart decisions about the most affordable and efficient ways to recharge electric vehicles, while giving utilities better tools for managing the expected changes in energy demand."