Ford Picks Battery Supplier For Plug-In Hybrid

Automaker said Johnson Controls-Saft will supply the battery system for its first production plug-in hybrid electric vehicle beginning in 2012.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Ford Motor Co. said Johnson Controls-Saft will supply the battery system for the automaker's first production plug-in hybrid electric vehicle beginning in 2012.

Ford is also expanding its test program to include several utilities around the nation to speed up the commercialization of plug-in hybrid vehicles. Among those participating is American Electric Power of Columbus, Ohio.

The partnerships, being announced Tuesday at the Washington Auto Show, are part of Ford's strategy to bring a battery-electric vehicle van to market in 2010 for commercial use, a small battery-electric sedan developed with Magna International by 2011 and a plug-in electric vehicle by 2012.

"As we move toward greater electrification of vehicles, we can achieve much more by working together toward a common goal," said Sue Cischke, Ford's group vice president for sustainability, environment and safety engineering.

The lithium-ion battery system being designed by Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls will include cells along with mechanical, electrical, electronic and thermal components.

Terms of the five-year supply agreement were not disclosed, but the companies have set a production target of 5,000 units a year. The cells will initially be produced at the supplier's facility in France but eventually be assembled in the United States.

"As U.S. vehicle manufacturers commercialize their hybrid programs, the industry will be best served with a qualified and robust domestic supply base," said Alex Molinaroli, president of Johnson Controls Power Solutions.

Johnson Controls-Saft is a joint venture between auto parts maker Johnson Controls Inc. and Paris-based battery producer Saft SA.

In the tests, Ford said the utilities were joining its partnership with the Electric Power Research Institute to conduct tests on a fleet of Ford Escape plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Along with AEP, the utilities include: New York Power Authority, Consolidated Edison of New York, Alabama Power of Birmingham, Ala., and its parent, Atlanta-based Southern Co., Progress Energy of Raleigh, N.C., DTE Energy of Detroit, National Grid of Waltham, Mass., and the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority.

The partnership will allow the utilities to study regional differences and the vehicles' impact on the electric grid.

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