Microsoft, Ford Unveil Electric Car Plans, Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

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Microsoft, Ford Unveil Electric Car Plans, Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

by Nicholas Kolakowski

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A covered Lincoln MKZ Hybrid sits on stage before the joint Ford and Microsoft announcement March 31, ahead of the first official day of the New York International Auto Show.

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Ford CEO Alan Mulally says the partnership with Microsoft is part of an initiative to make customers' interactions with the utility grid "more efficient."

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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer discusses Hohm's uses in relation to electric cars and utility companies.

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The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid will, like an increasing number of Ford vehicles, incorporate the Microsoft-designed SmartGauge and EcoGuide technology, which use a dashboard screen to display the car's energy efficiency.

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Ford has been working on creating hybrids that offer a smooth transition between gas-powered and electric modes while driving.

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Ford claims that the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid will be 50 percent more energy-efficient than comparably sized luxury vehicles.

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Running purely on its electrical battery, the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid will be able to reach speeds of 47 miles per hour.

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In theory, Hohm would tell drivers of Ford's electric cars the best time to plug their vehicles into the home grid for recharging.

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Data from Hohm could also be used by utility companies to determine how to best deal with the extra load placed by electric vehicles on the electric grid.

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Ford plans to bring five new hybrid vehicles to market by 2012, and focus more on incorporating electricity into its cars' propulsion systems.

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