Ford and Progress Energy Prepare North Carolina for Electric Vehicles

 Over the next two years, Ford is bringing to the U.S. market the Transit Connect Electric small commercial van, Focus Electric passenger car, two next-generation lithium-ion battery hybrids (2012) and a plug-in hybrid (2012).

Ford is working with utilities and municipalities across the U.S. to educate consumers about what to expect from electrified automobiles and what is needed from the public and private sectors to support this new technology. 

"Charging Into the Future – Ford’s Electric Vehicle Tour" convenes experts from Progress Energy, the city of Raleigh and North Carolina State University to discuss opportunities and challenges related to the introduction of electric vehicles.

Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) and Progress Energy today announced a joint effort to help prepare the Research Triangle area of North Carolina for the operation of electric vehicles.

Ford and Progress Energy will work together 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 demand.

"There is an incredible excitement for electric vehicles in the Raleigh area. To support the rollout and acceptance of these vehicles in Raleigh and across the country, it is crucial to work with local utilities to make sure the necessary electric infrastructure is ready and to help consumers understand the technology choices they will have available to meet their transportation needs," said David Finnegan, Electric Vehicle Marketing manager, Ford Motor Company.

Ford and Progress Energy also plan to work with state and local officials to address issues relating to the permitting and regulations that can support electric vehicle infrastructure. An easy charging station permitting process is considered one of the keys to electric vehicle acceptance.

Progress Energy is one of 10 utilities that have partnered with Ford to test 20 plug-in hybrid Ford Escapes to obtain data on durability, reliability and safety of the new battery technology.

"We are committed to developing the necessary infrastructure to enable widespread use of electric vehicles to help our customers save money and reduce their impact on the environment," said Bill Johnson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Progress Energy and co-chairman of the Edison Electric Institute CEO Taskforce on Electric Transportation.

"Although our companies are involved in two different industries, the work Progress Energy and Ford do is more closely aligned than ever before," he added. "Both companies are finding new ways to meet our customers’ evolving needs, and both are doing so while also seeking greener alternatives. This partnership will help us better serve our customers when electric vehicles become widely available."

Progress Energy has one of the most advanced utility plug-in electric vehicle programs in the nation. In addition to testing two plug-in hybrid Ford Escapes, the company owns seven other plug-in electric vehicles for research purposes including the Southeast’s first plug-in hybrid electric utility bucket truck, and it is expanding its partnership efforts with the auto industry to test additional vehicles.

Progress Energy is developing a charging station pilot program as part of a $200 million smart grid grant it received from the U.S. Department of Energy. This will include installing about 600 stations across the company’s territory in the Carolinas and Florida. The company has also partnered with several universities on electric transportation initiatives, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University and the University of Florida.

"We believe we are on the verge of a major shift in the type of vehicle that the American family can choose to drive," said Rogelio Sullivan, associate director of the Advanced Transportation Center, North Carolina State. "As the ownership, driving experience and economics of these groundbreaking vehicles becomes favorable, then we are on the road to sustainable transportation."

The partnership with Progress Energy was announced during Ford’s "Charging Into the Future – Ford’s Electric Vehicle Tour." The 14-city tour promotes Ford’s electric vehicle strategy, educates consumers about what to expect from electrified automobiles and examines what is needed from the public and private sector to support this new technology.

"The city of Raleigh has been working with Progress Energy along with the Rocky Mountain Institute and Advanced Energy as its ‘Project Get Ready’ partners," said Raleigh Assistant City Manager Julian Prosser. "The prospect of teaming with Ford Motor Company to further prepare Raleigh for the coming of plug-in electric vehicles as a new, cleaner means of motoring for our residents is a tremendous opportunity that we welcome."

Electrification is an important piece of Ford’s overall product sustainability strategy that features a range of fuel-efficient and alternative-fuel technologies including EcoBoost™ engines, six-speed transmissions, power-assisted steering, aerodynamic improvements and lightweight materials. Ford’s electrification strategy also leverages the most fuel-efficient powertrains, the most technically competent hybrids and its global vehicle platforms in order to develop affordable choices for consumers.

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 163,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln and Mercury, production of which has been announced by the company to be ending in the fourth quarter of 2010. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company.

Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN), headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., is a Fortune 500 energy company with more than 22,000 megawatts of generation capacity and approximately $10 billion in annual revenues. Progress Energy includes two major electric utilities that serve about 3.1 million customers in the Carolinas and Florida.

The company has earned the Edison Electric Institute’s Edison Award, the industry’s highest honor, in recognition of its operational excellence, and was the first utility to receive the prestigious J.D. Power and Associates Founder’s Award for customer service. The company is pursuing a balanced strategy for a secure energy future, which includes aggressive energy-efficiency programs, investments in renewable energy technologies and a state-of-the-art electricity system. Progress Energy celebrated a century of service in 2008. Visit the company’s website at