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Ford electric cars to 'talk' to grids

DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday its future electric cars will "talk" to power grids across the country, part of an effort to drive interest in alternative energy vehicles.

The nation's second-largest automaker released details of a two-year collaboration with 10 utility companies as well as the Department of Energy on the design of a system that allows car owners to control when they charge vehicles and for how long.

Ford's first battery electric vehicle, the Transit Connect commercial van, will be available next year. A battery electric Ford Focus compact car will go on sale in 2011.

Utility companies say their grids already are ready to handle electric cars, although some drivers are likely to need additional equipment installed in their garages, depending on the vehicle's voltage requirement.