RALEIGH, NC - Ford Motor Co. and Progress Energy announced a joint effort to help prepare the Research Triangle area of North Carolina for the operation of electric vehicles.

Ford and Progress Energy will work together to develop EV consumer outreach and education programs. They will also share information on charging needs and requirements to ensure the electrical grid can support the demand.

"There is an incredible excitement for electric vehicles in the Raleigh area. To support the rollout and acceptance of these vehicles in Raleigh and across the country, it is crucial to work with local utilities to make sure the necessary electric infrastructure is ready and to help consumers understand the technology choices they will have available to meet their transportation needs," said David Finnegan, Ford electric vehicle marketing manager.

Ford and Progress Energy also plan to work with state and local officials to address issues relating to the permitting and regulations that can support electric vehicle infrastructure. An easy charging station permitting process is considered one of the keys to electric vehicle acceptance.

Progress Energy is one of 10 utilities that have partnered with Ford to test 20 plug-in hybrid Ford Escapes to obtain data on durability, reliability and safety of the new battery technology.

"We are committed to developing the necessary infrastructure to enable widespread use of electric vehicles to help our customers save money and reduce their impact on the environment," said Bill Johnson, chairman, president and CEO of Progress Energy and co-chairman of the Edison Electric Institute CEO Taskforce on Electric Transportation.

"Although our companies are involved in two different industries, the work Progress Energy and Ford do is more closely aligned than ever before," Johnson added. "Both companies are finding new ways to meet our customers' evolving needs, and both are doing so while also seeking greener alternatives. This partnership will help us better serve our customers when electric vehicles become widely available."

Progress Energy has one of the most advanced utility plug-in electric vehicle programs in the nation. In addition to testing two plug-in hybrid Ford Escapes, the company owns seven other plug-in electric vehicles for research purposes, including the Southeast's first plug-in hybrid electric utility bucket truck.

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Progress Energy is also expanding its partnership efforts with the auto industry to test additional vehicles. The company is developing a charging station pilot program as part of a $200 million smart grid grant it received from the U.S. Department of Energy. This will include installing about 600 stations across the company's territory in the Carolinas and Florida.

Moreover, Progress Energy has partnered with several universities on electric transportation initiatives, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University and the University of Florida.

"We believe we are on the verge of a major shift in the type of vehicle that the American family can choose to drive," said Rogelio Sullivan, associate director of the Advanced Transportation Center at North Carolina State. "As the ownership, driving experience and economics of these groundbreaking vehicles become favorable, then we are on the road to sustainable transportation."

The partnership with Progress Energy was announced during Ford's "Charging into the Future - Ford's Electric Vehicle Tour." The 14-city tour promotes Ford's electric vehicle strategy, educates consumers about what to expect from electrified automobiles, and examines what is needed from the public and private sector to support this new technology.

"The city of Raleigh has been working with Progress Energy along with the Rocky Mountain Institute and Advanced Energy as its 'Project Get Ready' partners," said Raleigh Assistant City Manager Julian Prosser. "The prospect of teaming with Ford Motor Co. to further prepare Raleigh for the coming of plug-in electric vehicles as a new, cleaner means of motoring for our residents is a tremendous opportunity that we welcome."

Originally posted on Green Fleet Magazine

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