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Georgia Tech collaborates with GE, Ford on alternative fuel vehicle research

Mon, 11/26/2012 - 8:35am

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology are partnering with GE and Ford Motor Co. to study ways to add greater efficiencies to electric driving and charging performance.

GE recently announced its plans to purchase 2,000 new Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrids for its fleet. As part of the collaboration, Ford will jointly market GE's alternative fuel infrastructure solutions to commercial customers and provide new alternative fuel vehicles for use at GE's Vehicle Innovation Center.

The two companies will also work with researchers at Georgia Tech to study GE employee driving and charging habits, with the goal of improving driving and charging performance in electric vehicles.

To collect data, Georgia Tech researchers will use Ford's MyFord mobile app that shows a real-time battery charge status and offers "value charging," which automatically recharges at lower cost, off-peak electricity rates.

"Understanding driving and charging habits is key to advancing vehicle and charging infrastructure," says Georgia Tech professor Bert Bras of the Sustainable Design & Manufacturing Laboratory in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. "Through access to vehicle data, we can accelerate research and development of new technologies to further improve efficiency, driver satisfaction, and environmental benefits."

Georgia Tech's findings will be shared with commercial customers to provide insights and help facilitate the deployment of electric vehicles in their own fleets amid a growing electric vehicle infrastructure that now includes more than 10,000 public charging stations across the country.

For GE, the purchase of the 2,000 Ford C-MAX Energi vehicles is another step in the company's commitment to converting half of its global fleet to alternative fuel vehicles as part of its commitment to ecomagination. The addition of the Ford vehicles brings the number of alternative fuel vehicles in GE's fleet to more than 5,000 toward its goal of 25,000 vehicles.

"We are focused on providing our customers and our fleet with more economically and environmentally efficient vehicles," says Mark Vachon, GE vice president of ecomagination. "The Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid is a great addition to our expanding fleet of alternative fuel vehicles."

The Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid provides a 21-mile electric-only range, a 108-mpg city EPA rating and a 620-mile single-tank driving range. GE will begin integrating the Ford C-Max Energi into its fleet this month.

"Ford is launching six new electrified vehicles—a big bet that fuel prices will continue rising and lead to more demand for advanced fuel-efficient vehicles," says Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. marketing, sales and service. "We are pleased to partner with GE, a company that is charting a similar course, to promote advanced technology and energy savings."

As part of the collaboration, Ford will promote GE's WattStation charging station and the CNG in a Box natural gas fueling station with its commercial customers. Ford also will supply new alternative fuel vehicles for use at GE's Vehicle Innovation Center at the headquarters of GE's fleet management business in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Source: Georgia Institute of Technology

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