Ford Motor
(F) recently introduced an intelligent vehicle-to-grid communications technology that will enable its plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) to simply “talk” with the nation’s electric grid for recharging the battery.

The new technology that works on SYNC, SmartGauge with EcoGuide and Ford Work Solutions, will allow the owner to select the time, duration and utility rate for recharging his car on a touch-screen navigation interface and Ford Work Solutions in-dash computer.

The owner could thus choose to accept a charge only during non-peak hours, between midnight and 6 am, when electricity rates are cheaper or when the grid can use renewable sources like wind or solar energy.

Ford said that all 21 of its PHEV Escapes fleet are likely to be equipped with the vehicle-to-grid communications technology. The first batch of specially equipped PHEVs has already been delivered to American Electric Power (AEP) of Columbus, Ohio.

Over the past two years, Ford has consistently focused on technologies based on battery systems, vehicle systems, consumer usage, and grid infrastructure to commercialize electric vehicles. So far, the company and its energy industry partners have logged more than 75,000 miles on the PHEV test fleet.

Ford has formed several partnerships to push its PHEV commercialization strategy. Of all 13 of these partnerships, the company considers the one with Electric Power Research Institute to be vital for the promotion of seamless integration of electric-drive vehicles into the power grid and the transportation sector.

Ford has several new launches in the pipeline that are perfectly in line with this strategy. These include a pure battery electric Transit Connect commercial van (to be launched in 2010), a battery electric Focus compact car (2011) and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and next-generation hybrid electric vehicle (2012).

We recommend the shares of Ford as Neutral with a target price of $8.

Read the full analyst report on “F”
Read the full analyst report on “AEP”
Zacks Investment Research