Ford Partners with Austin Energy and Centerpoint Energy to Prepare Austin and Houston Areas for EVs

Ford announced two partnerships with utilities in Texas—Austin Energy in Austin and Centerpoint Energy in Houston—to prepare those two regions for electric vehicles.

Ford will work with Austin Energy and Centerpoint Energy to develop consumer outreach and education programs on electric vehicles as well as share information on charging needs and requirements to ensure the electrical grid can support the necessary demand.

Ford and the two partners plan to work with state and local officials around permitting and regulations to support electric vehicle infrastructure. An easy charging station permitting process is considered one of the keys to electric vehicle acceptance in the Austin area, Texas and across the country.

The Ford and CenterPoint Energy collaboration also includes developing strategies to minimize the emissions and distribution impacts of charging electric vehicles by using statewide system renewable energy resources and more efficient use of household electricity. This will be achieved by leveraging and showcasing CenterPoint Energy’s smart meter and intelligent grid deployment coupled with Ford’s smart charging solutions.

Austin Energy has set up five internal staff efforts to get the City ready for Plug-In electric vehicles. First, there is a group working to establish a grid of public charging stations throughout the area so that people will be able to top off their batteries conveniently. A second effort is geared to updating Austin’s building codes and adjusting the permitting process so that vehicle owners will be able to work with the city to have a charging station placed in their garage with no more than a two-day turn-around. In addition, Austin Energy is working nationally on the vehicle communication software to help the utility/customer schedule the best time for charging and has several other groups considering the development of business models, marketing and outreach. Overall, the utility has created a transportation roadmap and timeline to be ready by 2012 for plug-in electric vehicles when they show up at dealer’s showrooms in the Austin region.

Over the next two years, Ford will introduce the Transit Connect Electric small commercial van, the Ford Focus Electric passenger car, two third generation lithium-ion battery hybrids (2012) and a plug-in hybrid (2012).

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