Microsoft's online service aimed at helping consumers manage and plan their energy usage is getting taken for a ride.
However, that's a good thing, according to Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and its main automotive partner, the Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F).
The two industry giants announced an expanded partnership on Wednesday that will let consumers monitor energy use for plug-in electric cars and hybrids in order to better manage demand on the power grid going forwards.
Based on Microsoft's Hohm online energy tracking service, the system aims to expand on the two firms' partnership over the Sync in-car infotainment and communications system sold with many Ford automobiles.
Last week, Ford announced it had just sold its two-millionth vehicle equipped with Sync.
"As the market for electric vehicles expands, it will have a significant impact on home energy consumption and demand across the nation's energy grid," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a statement.
"With Microsoft Hohm, Ford and Microsoft will deliver a solution that will make it easier for car owners to make smart decisions about the most affordable and efficient ways to recharge electric vehicles, while giving utilities better tools for managing the expected changes in energy demand," Ballmer added.
Microsoft launched Hohm (pronounced "home") last June. Hohm's initial concept was to provide a home energy management and planning service for consumers.
More cost-effective charging
With the newly expanded partnership, Hohm will be able to interface with Ford plug-in electric vehicles in order to help drivers of cars that need to be plugged in for charging more cost effectively plan their charging schedules.
Ford will become the first automaker to tie its vehicles into Hohm next year when it delivers its Ford Focus Electric car, a joint statement from the two companies said.
"For Ford, this is a needed step in the development of the infrastructure that will make electric vehicles viable," Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Ford Motor Company, said in a statement.
The plan will focus on battery electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV).
The two companies also cited a recent report from Accenture that found 42 percent of consumers say they are likely to buy either a hybrid or all-electric vehicle in the next two years.