Car giant Ford is working on electric vehicles that will "talk" to power grids across America, allowing owners to control when they charge and for how long.
The carmaker hopes a two-year collaboration with 10 utility companies and the Department of Energy on the system will stimulate interest in alternative energy vehicles.
Ford's first battery electric vehicle, the Transit Connect commercial van, will go on sale in the US next year, while a battery electric Ford Focus will be available in 2011.
Ford chairman Bill Ford explained: "At the end of the day this has to be easy for our customer.
"This can't just be an interesting science experiment. This has to be something that makes people's lives better and easier and that is what our dialogue is all about."
According to utility companies, grids are already ready to handle electric cars. However, some drivers may need additional equipment installed in their garages, depending on the vehicle's voltage requirement.
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