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

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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.