DEARBORN, Mich., Jan. 7, 2011 – The new Focus Electric, Ford Motor Company’s first-ever all-electric passenger car, uses a high-tech driver interface to help drivers optimize range and experience the freedom of fuel-free driving.
Using an expansion of the technologies behind MyFord Touch™ driver connect technology, the Focus Electric cockpit provides a host of electronic tools to guide drivers, inspire efficient driving, emphasize the performance of Focus Electric and – most importantly – make it easy to live with an electric vehicle (EV).
“Consumers interested in an electric vehicle are more focused on reducing the impact their driving has on the environment,” explained John Schneider, Ford chief engineer for HMI, Driver Controls and Infotainment. “Rather than minimize the realities of battery range and the need for more conscious trip planning in an electric vehicle, we’ve made it a core part of the ownership experience, giving owners the tools to actively manage how they can drive their car based on where they need to go.”
Focus Electric interface: Making efficiency fun
Until there are more recharging stations in public places, trip planning will be an important part of operating an electric vehicle. EV owners will need to think in terms of round trips and what is achievable within their vehicle’s range budget. Consequently, Ford has designed the Focus Electric driver interface to inspire efficient driving and help owners enjoy the thrill of fuel-free transportation rather than worry about battery charge.
In the cockpit, Focus Electric owners will interact with a unique execution of MyFord Touch, offering new levels of vehicle information personalization. Basic information, such as battery state of charge, distance to charge point, the corresponding budget and expected range surplus are all easily visible in the two 4.2-inch full-color LCD screens flanking the centrally mounted speedometer.
Focus Electric MyFord Touch instrument cluster
For those who want more in-depth information, the cluster’s MyView feature offers greater personalization choices. Using five-way buttons on the steering wheel, Focus Electric owners can configure their own custom information screen in the left display. MyView gives owners the ability to choose trip budgets, range views and whether or not to display associated text with each screen.
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The system also helps coach drivers to optimize their use of the vehicle’s regenerative brakes to recapture kinetic energy and send it back to the battery. Brake Coach gives drivers feedback on their braking performance – and the effect it has on their range – once the car comes to a complete stop after a braking event.
The right-hand display screen in Focus Electric also uses blue butterflies to graphically represent the additional range beyond one’s charge point destination – the more there are, the greater the range. Ford designers were inspired by the phenomenon known as “the butterfly effect,” in which a small change, like choosing to drive an EV, can have an enormous environmental impact. To reinforce the message, at the end of each trip a display screen provides distance driven, miles gained through regenerative braking, energy consumed and comparative gasoline saved by driving electric.
The Focus Electric information displays are also integrated with the MyFord Touch Navigation System accessible through the vehicle’s center stack 8-inch touch screen. Drivers can add their driving destinations, including their next charge point, into the vehicle’s Navigation System, after which the vehicle will advise the driver on how to achieve the desired range – or if travel plans need to be adjusted. In the car, the on-board Navigation System provides an EcoRoute option based on characteristics of efficient EV driving; drivers also can get charging station information directly through SYNC Traffic, Directions and Information (TDI) simply by connecting to SYNC Services.
Trip budgeting with MyView: From Formula One to Focus
During the initial stages of electric vehicle research, Ford engineers found a parallel for their limited range in an unlikely venue: Formula One racing. F1 drivers aren’t allowed to refuel during pit stops, meaning they’re required to complete their journey with a limited resource – similar to the experience of electric vehicle ownership, due to the time required to recharge.
“A race car driver has to budget his or her driving style to reconcile the car’s fuel capacity with the distance to the finish line,” said Schneider. “Electric vehicle owners are required to do the same thing, and our innovative budgeting screens will help drivers understand exactly what they can accomplish – and how they need to drive – given the available charge.”
Once a trip budget is established using destinations, charge points and available battery power, owners will be able to enjoy all the performance available in the car without concern – they’ve already determined they can get where they’re going. The car won’t signal range or consumption warnings unless the specified budget is being severely compromised, letting owners choose the driving style that best suits their mood.
A driver who has 80 miles of range (128 kilometers) but only needs to travel 40 miles (64 kilometers) will be able to drive for performance, versus a driver with 80 miles (128 kilometers) of range and 70 miles (112 kilometers) to travel. Budgeting before the trip begins lets the driver best manage the resources on-board for a sporty drive or for one to best maximize range.
Not surprisingly, achieving maximum range in Focus Electric will be a big part of the fun for most drivers – another reason Ford designed the interface to provide as much system detail as possible for the enthusiasts expected to make up a significant portion of Focus Electric buyers.
“We’ve engineered the Focus Electric interface to serve as a knowledgeable trip guide and a wealth of EV information,” said Schneider. “It provides expert knowledge and communicates choices, but the driver makes the decisions that determine the experience. Whichever route the driver takes – performance or frugality, fully informed or simply enjoying the drive – Focus Electric is going to prove to be a remarkably rewarding companion.”
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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 163,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.