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Ford taps AT&T, MapQuest for EV smartphone app

<p>With the help of tech partners MapQuest, AT&amp;T and Microsoft, the newly launched MyFord Mobile app helps EV drivers find more than 9,400 public charging stations across the U.S.</p>

Ford hopes to alleviate "range anxiety" for EV owners by providing up-to-the-minute information on where to find the nearest place to charge up.

With the release of MyFord Mobile , EV drivers can now locate more than 9,445 public charging stations across the U.S. The app is designed to work with the Ford Focus Electric, as well as the C-MAX Energi and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid models to be released this fall.

The app should come in handy for electric car owners as the number of EV charging stations in the U.S. has almost quadrupled since the end of 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, with more than 6,000 installed in the last six months.

"I cannot recall another time in our history when there was so much momentum and resources around an energy shift for transportation," said Mike Tinskey, Ford's manager of vehicle electrification and infrastructure. "Not only are these charge stations a boost for consumers thinking about a plug-in hybrid vehicle, but they also provide a glimpse of how things will likely take shape in the future.”

To provide real-time information on EV charging station locations, MyFord Mobile has tapped MapQuest which gathers data and information sources provided by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL).

The app, which is free and available for iPhone and Android users, not only can locate charging stations but manage remote charging, view current battery status and provide step-by-step directions.

AT&T is the select communications provider for the MyFord Mobile app connecting remotely via an embedded modem on the Ford vehicles. Drivers can determine the current and projected state of charge as well as the estimated range and amount of charge time necessary for further distances.

The Focus Electric also includes technology from Microsoft with "value charging technology" allowing the vehicle owner to charge the batteries inside the car at off-peak hours when electricity rates are cheaper.

Also, the MyFord Mobile app allows Focus Electric drivers to share their driving experiences by participating in forums on the MyFord Mobile website, featuring leaderboards. Users will be able to upload achievements and statistics to popular social platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

But Ford is not alone in providing EV charging station location apps for smartphones.

Competitors include Coulomb Technologies’s ChargePoint app which allows EV owners to find and reserve charging stations as well as see if the station is currently occupied. (Coulomb Technologies recently received funding from BMW iVenture and names Toyota as an additional investor.)

Other EV mobile app providers include Ecotality, with its Blink Network platform; Recargo, a community-based service which combines infrastructure data from various sources including Coulomb's Chargepoint network and options to upload photos, tips and reviews; and PlugShare which relies on social and mobile features to enable users to find the closest electric car charger.

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