The electrification of the American automobile is more than a technical challenge – it’s also a social one. That’s why automakers with spanky new electric vehicles (EV) ready to roll out are forming strategic partnerships to develop consumer outreach and education programs on electric vehicles in target areas–the latest of which is Ford’s partnership with CenterPoint Energy in Houston, Texas.
This collaboration, aimed at helping to prepare the Houston area for the operation of electric vehicles, will spread the buzz on electric cars while sharing information on charging needs and requirements to ensure the local infrastructure can support the necessary demand. Working together, Ford and CenterPoint Energy also hope to develop strategies to minimize the emissions and distribution impacts of charging electric vehicles by using renewable energy resources throughout the state and helping end-users more efficient use of household electricity. (Apparently, this collaboration will teach residents of the Houston area how to conserve their electricity at home, using CenterPoint’s smart grid and meter system, so they can expend it on their Ford EVs, among other things.)
Nor are all these efforts from Ford simply on behalf of the much-hyped Fusion, as over the next two years, the automaker plans to 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). According to Ford, all of these vehicles will be highly efficient, and some, like the Ford Transit Connect Electric and Ford Focus Electric, will be entirely gas-free.
“Ford has a an aggressive plan to bring five new electrified vehicles to market over the next two years including the Transit Connect Electric later this year and the Focus battery electric in late 2011,” said Chris Pick, Global Electrification Business Planning Manager, Ford Motor Company, in a statement. “There is an incredible excitement for electric vehicles in the Houston area. To support the roll out and acceptance of these vehicles in Houston and across the country, it is crucial to work with local utilities to make sure the necessary electric infrastructure is ready.” The announcement came during the third stop of Ford’s “Charging Into the Future Tour,” in Houston.