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Ford shines bright in the sunshine state

Ford Motor Co. and Progress Energy are expanding their plug-in vehicle research partnership to include the utility company's Florida operations

Ford Motor Co. today announced that it's expanding the range of its plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) research program Progress Energy expands its role by adding a Ford Escape PHEV to its Florida operations.

Ford and Progress Energy will work together advance the commercialization of electric vehicles under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy. Progress Energy is already road-testing Ford Escape PHEV in Raleigh, N.C. The new agreement will expand these efforts into Florida.

In Florida, Progress Energy will road-test a 2010 Escape PHEV equipped with one of the industry's first vehicle-to-electric "smart" grid communications and control systems. The ultimate goal of this new technology is to enable PHEVs to interface with the electric grid and to allow drivers to know when, and for how long, their vehicles need recharging. This will potentially enable drivers to take advantage of lower, off-peak utility rates, the announcement said.

Ford's utility partners, including Southern California Edison, New York Power Authority, and a dozen other companies have already conducted more than 160,000 miles of road testing with a fleet of 21 Escape PHEVs. These rechargeable vehicles use a combination of pure electric power and a gasoline engine to achieve up to 120 mpg.