Ford, EPRI Add 7 New Utility Partners, Johnson Controls-Saft To PHEV Program

February 02, 2009 by Jeff Shepard

Ford Motor Company announced new details about its electric vehicle strategy, including the announcement of a new plug-in hybrid battery supplier and the addition of seven utility partners to a test program to speed the commercialization of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

Ford said it has entered into a partnership with battery producer Johnson Controls-Saft to develop advanced lithium-ion battery system to power Ford’s first commercial plug-in hybrid (PHEV). At the same time, Ford said seven regional electric utility partners are joining Ford and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to conduct real-world tests on an expanding fleet of Ford Escape PHEVs.

The partnerships will help Ford accelerate its electrification strategy, including bringing a full battery electric vehicle (BEV) van to market in 2010 for commercial use, a small BEV sedan developed jointly with Magna International by 2011 and a PHEV by 2012.

Ford is providing Escape PHEVs for real world road testing to its new research and utility partners around the country, including: New York Power Authority; Consolidated Edison of New York; American Electric Power of Columbus, Ohio; Alabama Power of Birmingham.; and its parent, Atlanta-based Southern Company; Progress Energy of Raleigh, North Carolina; DTE Energy of Detroit; National Grid of Waltham, Massachusetts; and New York State Energy and Research Development Authority.

EPRI, which is providing financial and logistical support for extensive new studies, formed the collaboration of utilities for the program. This allows EPRI and Ford, which first entered into a three-year agreement in March, to study regional differences and the impact on the electric grid as well as the vehicles.

Ford also announced today that Johnson Controls-Saft will supply the complete battery system for Ford’s first production plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) beginning in 2012.

The lithium-ion battery system that Johnson Controls-Saft is designing and manufacturing for Ford include cells, mechanical, electrical, electronic and thermal components. Initially the cells will be produced at the supplier’s production facility in France, but the system will be assembled in the United States. The five-year supply agreement includes delivery for committed production in 2012 with a target of at least 5,000 units per year.