Microsoft, Ford team up on electric car software

Microsoft will expand its Hohm consumer energy management software to work with Ford Motor Company electric cars, the two companies announced Wednesday.

With Hohm, future owners of Ford's electric vehicles will be able to determine when the best times will be to recharge their vehicles at home, executives from the two companies said at a press conference in New York.

As consumers start using electric and hybrid electric vehicles en masse, electric companies will experience surges of power demand in the evenings when people come home from work and plug in their automobiles for recharging, explained Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, via satellite.

"The demand placed on the energy grid will be momentous," Ballmer said. "Addressing the challenge of how that demand is managed in a smart and affordable way is absolutely going to be critical. And information technology will be an essential part of supporting the energy ecosystem."

The two companies pledged to work with utilities and municipal power companies so the software can determine when the most affordable times will be for consumers to recharge their vehicles.

According to a survey from Accenture, 42% of consumers are considering purchasing electric or hybrid electric vehicles. Ford plans to introduce five electric or hybrid vehicles for the North American and European markets by 2013. Already, Ford and Mercury offer four hybrids and Lincoln will introduce a new hybrid later this year.

Hohm is a Microsoft service that analyzes home electricity usage, suggesting changes for power savings.

Ford already collaborates with Microsoft for its Sync in-car technology, which allows personal electronics such as MP3 players and mobile phones to be controlled by voice recognition. Sync is based on Microsoft's Windows Embedded Auto platform

Currently, over 2 million Ford vehicles use Sync, said Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally at the press conference.

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