Johnson Controls and partner will supply batteries for Ford Escape hybrid

From a media release issued by Johnson Controls:

MILWAUKEE, June 10 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — As increasing numbers of consumers look for fuel-efficient, low emission vehicle options, a test fleet of Ford Escape plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) is making its way on the road today. Powered by lithium-ion batteries from Johnson Controls-Saft, the demonstration fleet will examine the future of PHEVs as part of a complete vehicle, home and grid energy system. The fleet is the result of an ongoing collaboration among Ford, Johnson Controls-Saft, Southern California Edison (SCE) and Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

“This fleet demonstrates a major step forward toward validating plug-in hybrid vehicle technology,” said Mary Ann Wright, who leads the Johnson Controls-Saft joint venture and is vice president and general manager of Johnson Controls’ hybrid battery business. “PHEVs, which have the ability to drive an extended range on electric-only power, can significantly reduce emissions and improve fuel economy.”

The 20-vehicle fleet will be tested first in California by SCE and later by other utilities in the New York/ New Jersey area, to help determine regional differences in vehicle usage and performance, as well as how PHEVs will affect the electric grid system and associated infrastructure requirements. The first unit was delivered to California in December; additional units will be on the road in June.

The outcome of the fleet will help to continue to address barriers to commercialization including cost, technology validation, and strategies for charging the vehicles.

Sale of hybrid vehicles gaining traction

From a story by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

How’s this for oil-shock value: Scott Olson of Brookfield went to his car dealership to get the oil changed on his sport utility vehicle and drove home in a new SUV that gets nearly twice the gas mileage.

“I was filling it up every five days,” he said of his old Ford Escape. “Now I’m only filling it up every eight or nine days.”

Olson, 43, now the proud owner of a blue Mercury Mariner hybrid SUV that gets nearly 40 mpg in city driving, is part of the latest crowd of buyers bothered by fuel costs who are now in the hunt for hybrid electric vehicles.

Until recently, most hybrid buyers could be characterized as having a “green streak,” concerned about the environment and pollution released from tailpipes, said John Dolan, hybrid sales specialist at Smart Motors in Madison.

“But once oil got to $100 a barrel and on toward $130, we’re starting to see more and more people who don’t even characterize themselves as environmentalists,” he said. “They’re just looking at buying a hybrid as a dollars and cents thing.”