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Ford Selects Johnson Controls-Saft for PHEV Battery Supplier in 2012; Adds 7 Utilities to PHEV Test Program

Ford has into a partnership with Johnson Controls-Saft (JCS) to develop advanced lithium-ion battery system to power Ford’s first production plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) beginning in 2012. Also, seven regional electric utility partners are joining Ford and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to conduct real-world tests on an expanding fleet of Ford Escape PHEVs.

Ford says partnerships will help it accelerate its electrification strategy, including bringing a full battery electric vehicle (BEV) van to market in 2010 for commercial use, a small BEV sedan developed jointly with Magna International—unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January—by 2011 (earlier post) and a PHEV by 2012.

The lithium-ion battery system that Johnson Controls-Saft is designing and manufacturing for Ford include cells, mechanical, electrical, electronic and thermal components. Initially the cells will be produced at the supplier’s production facility in France, but the system will be assembled in the United States. The five-year supply agreement includes delivery for committed production in 2012 with a target of at least 5,000 units per year.

Ford’s current demonstration fleet of Escape plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) is using JCS Li-ion packs. The first PHEV research prototype used a JCS 10 kWh lithium-ion battery pack based off a 41 Ah cylindrical cell. Ford and JCS developed the plug-in pack together. The PHEV uses a blended operating strategy, and delivers an equivalent 30-mile all-electric range, according to Ford. (Earlier post.)

Ford is providing Escape PHEVs for real world road testing to its new research and utility partners around the country, including:

  • New York Power Authority
  • Consolidated Edison of New York
  • American Electric Power of Columbus, Ohio
  • Alabama Power of Birmingham, Ala.; and its parent, Atlanta-based Southern Company
  • Progress Energy of Raleigh, N.C.
  • DTE Energy of Detroit
  • National Grid of Waltham, Mass.
  • New York State Energy and Research Development Authority, a state agency.

Ford formed its first utility partnership with Southern California Edison in 2007. (Earlier post.)

EPRI, which is providing financial and logistical support for extensive new studies, formed the collaboration of utilities for the program. This allows EPRI and Ford, which first entered into a three-year agreement in March, to study regional differences and the impact on the electric grid as well as the vehicles.

The data mined from these field tests will provide crucial information that will help us continue to make advances in battery technology, vehicle systems and customer usage. This technical information will lead to PHEV standards that will ultimately help automakers and utilities develop an efficient, convenient infrastructure and a seamless interface between the road and the power grid.

—Arshad Mansoor, EPRI vice president of Power Delivery and Utilization

The research into PHEVs focuses on four primary areas: battery technology, vehicle systems, customer usage, and grid infrastructure. The companies also will explore the potential for stationary battery application and the value of energy storage.

Ford was the first automotive manufacturer to partner with the utility industry in a shared effort to understand all of the issues related to PHEV technology and its interconnectivity with the electric grid.

We are at the point where we need to work with the battery supply base, the utility industry and the government in order to find ways to make electrified vehicles an affordable proposition for consumers. Plug-in hybrids hold great promise, but do still face significant obstacles to commercialization.

—Sue Cischke, Ford group vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering

The demonstration Ford Escape PHEV uses common household current (120V) for charging, with a full charge of the battery completed within six to eight hours. When driven on surface streets for the first 30 miles following a full charge, the Ford Escape PHEV can achieve up to 120 mpg—roughly 4.5 times its traditional gas internal combustion engine-powered counterpart.

A fully charged Ford Escape PHEV operates in two modes, electric drive and blended electric/engine drive. It is not range-limited by the amount of charge available in the high-voltage lithium-ion battery. Once the charge in the battery has been depleted, the vehicle continues to operate as a fuel-efficient, standard Ford Escape Hybrid.



Good for Ford. But at 5k units per annum with a 5 year window - not much of an impact on electrification. You've got to wonder what Ford is thinking when Nissan, Toyota, GM, etc. are ramping up to produce 200k battery packs per year.

And why not add a small gennie to E-REV the pack?


This is sooo Ford - 5000 units a year maybe... Just like they only make 25,000 Escape Hybrids (always been below demand, although who knows this year) and 25,000 Fusion Hybrids. This is a publicity campaign, just like their few Escape plug in demonstrators. This is a big enough number that they get their "green" sticker (we're really doing this), but forget about actually buying one and forget about Ford driving scales of economy to reduce prices at these production levels (reminds me of GM and how they were with the EV1 when it was being produced).

The frustrating thing about this is Ford was the US car company with all the cards to win and make gravy with the electrification of the car (be it HEV, PHEV or BEV) and they're just going to do a little (which means they have to spend the investment anyways like they did for Hybrids) and watch everyone just roll on by them and catch up later - instead of capitalizing on their investment. Come on Ford, get serious - we need you to!


This is not about publicity or lack thereof. This is validation that Detroit is about to be extinguished. Even IF they were going to roll out these vehicles in large numbers, the crucial component, the battery, is coming from offshore. Look at the other automakers and their battery suppliers: Panasonic, Compact Power. With the exception of Cobasys (NiMH) and A123 (Li-Ion), the playing field may become non-US. Detroit had the PERFECT opportunity to RAISE margins... by selling a car for the same price, and dropping lots of cost from the Bill of Material in an EV or PHEV. Instead, offshore manufacturers will be here years sooner with better technology and steal the US automotive future. The Si Valley start-ups are our only defense. The auto execs should have been replaced with REAL entrepreneurs years ago. I fear it may now be too late.

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