By on March 31, 2010

Reuters reports that Ford and Microsoft are deepening ties that began with the Sync hands-free system, announcing a new online app aimed at plug-in vehicle owners. “Hohm,” as the new app is called, will be made available for free to owners of Ford electric vehicles, and will “help vehicle and home owners decide when to power up electric vehicle batteries, in the hope that consumers will draw power from the grid at night, when energy use and costs are lower” according to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Which leaves only one problem: the fact that Ford doesn’t sell any electric vehicles. An EV version of the Transit Connect commercial van will be made available later this year, one of five EVs Ford says it will sell by 2013. But how much will EV recharging be about planning the most efficient time to maximize grid downtime? Won’t people who use their EV every day simply plug in when they get home and unplug when they head to work in the morning? Does there really need to be an app for this? Oh right, as a society we’ve stopped asking that particular question. Very well, carry on.

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14 Comments on “Microsoft: Hohm On The Range Anxiety...”


  • avatar
    jmo

    Does there really need to be an app for this? Oh right, as a society we’ve stopped asking that particular question. Very well, carry on.

    What are you talking about? The point of the technology is to provide accurate range estimates for EV driver based on weather, traffic conditions, geography of the route, etc. – just like the technology Nissan developed for the leaf.

    Perhase you were just confused by the poorly written article.

  • avatar
    b1msus93

    and it’s a low cost PR opportunity for these “American icons”

  • avatar
    tced2

    I’ve never been convinced that there is enough electric energy on the grid to do EV recharging – without upgrades – let alone controlling the timing with “Hohm”. And if everyone plugs in, will electricity remain the same cost? I suspect not. Cap’n’trade will raise the cost of electrictiy courtesy the District of Control folks.

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      At night, there’s enough for 85 million EVs. In the day,and early evening, the grid capacity is iffy, and smart charging is going to be absolutely essential as the numbers of EVs increase.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Won’t people who use their EV every day simply plug in when they get home and unplug when they head to work in the morning?

    Also, winter grid load is highest when people get home from work, turn on the lights and TV and start cooking dinner. That would also, in your world, be the time everyone would plug in their EV (even if they only drove 10 miles that day) might it make sense to start the charging at 2am?

    Is that a stpuid idea – or do you not think before you post?

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      2 AM is a good time assuming the charging cycle can be completed by say 6 AM. And many of your neighbors will want electrons for their EV on the same schedule. There will be a peak of demand in the early morning hours – we’ll see if low demand rates can survive that new peak of demand in the middle of the night.

  • avatar
    dlfcohn

    This actually makes sense to me.

    Imagine you come home at say 6pm and plug in your car to your garage outlet.

    Here in Ontario — where we are introducing time variable power charges (you pay more depending on when you use electricity) — you would get a pretty expensive monthly bill. In my city peak rate will be 9 cents a kwh when time variable metering begins in the fall. The lowest rate is going to be 4 cents.

    Now suppose you could punch a few buttons and pick whether the car should accept charging immediately once it is plugged in, or when rates drop to their lowest point (around 10pm). If you need your car charged asap, you bite the bullet and pay the peak power rate. However, if you know you are not going to need the car until next morning you select “economy charge” setting. Plug it in and walk away. At 10pm when rates drop the charging begins.

    In fact, given the drain totally electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids will place on Ontario’s already stressed-out power grid, I would not be surprised if the gov’t here mandates all EVs and PIHs have this sort of smart charging capability.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    This is not a bad idea, and would work well when combined with SmartMeters. An intelligent grid where homes and devices communicate and agree on resource usage and timing would get net usage down and obviate the need to build for peak power usage.

    Smarter traffic lights (that took into account traffic patterns and interacted with your car) would be nice, too, to reduce gridlock and manage traffic flow and fuel usage.

    And I’d like a pony.

    That about sums up my feeling on how likely it would be that various competitive stakeholders would put aside egos and short-term profits in order to make this work.

  • avatar
    Tortoiseme

    Many home appliances now have built in delay-timers for just this purpose, to avoid peak electric rates. Why should ev’s be any different? The suprising part is that Ford feels the need to have a technology partner in order to implement it.

  • avatar
    NickR

    http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/59496

    Don’t get too close to Microsoft Ford! Hackers might make you suddenly accelerate.

    Speaking of which, the spate of wall-hittings and police interventions seems to be petering out.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    I agree with jmo. It would be great if you could plug in the car, but it wouldn’t start charging until rates were cheaper.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    So essentially Ford and MS are trying to catch up with Nissan. The Leaf will allow one to set the time for charging – and you can do it with your cell phone.

    The problem for now is that if you don’t spring for the 220V charger, then you have little choice but to start charging as soon as you get home – and it will just about be fully charged 16 hours later when it’s time to go to work.

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    This sounds like a good idea. Hopefully they will take into account weather and accessory use. Temperature, HVAC, windshield wipers, lighting and various other electronics would greatly impact EV range. There are so many factors to consider, most people probably won’t be able to accurately determine this on their own.


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