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by Matt Brogan

Ford’s first electric vehicle, due mid next year, will have the capability of being able to communicate with next generation ‘smart’ powergrids.

The intelligent new system will act as a sort of middle man between the plug-in vehicle and the grid. It can communicate with the grid and determine, at the owner’s discretion, the best time to recharge a vehicle’s battery according to off-peak rates.

The system can also be set to only use power from renewable sources.

Ford plans to initially test the new technology in 21 prototype plug-in hybrids, but say the technology could become a standard feature on Ford’s forthcoming electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Ford has worked closely with 10 utility companies and the US Department of Energy to develop the technology.

Although a specific date for the technology’s public launch has yet to be set, Ford’s first EV – an electric version of the Transit – will hit the market next year. An electric version of the Ford Focus will follow in 2011, followed by a plug-in hybrid in 2012.