Focusing On Ford's Electric

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I stopped by Dearbon Michigan to see the Go Further With Ford event to check out the 2014 electric and hybrid vehicles Ford in store for us. I got up a quick photo gallery (see Image Gallery: Go Further With Ford Electrics) first and will be writing more details about the technology in the future. Overall it was an interesting and informative exercise.

I have written about electric vehicles for awhile (see All-Electric Vehicles Prepare To Shock The Automotive Market) and I drive a Toyota Prius these days. I was hoping to get a plug-in electric but I needed to buy a new car before they were out. The Nissan Leaf was not out yet but it was one of the first all electric vehicles in production.

Ford was showing off their Ford Focus Electric (Fig. 1) along with the Energi plug-in electric versions. The Focus has a 76 mile range and can charge in half the time as the Leaf with one of the high voltage chargers.

The Fusion and new C-Max Energi plug-in hybrids use the same charger. Hopefully chargers will become more common. My wife's employer has a pair at their main office in Stamford, CT but not at their other sites yet.

The plug-ins were on the highlight list for the event. The test drive for the Fusion Energi (Fig. 2) was to see how well drivers could hit the efficiency mark by taking advantage of Ford's driver assist. It did make

 

It was an interesting contrast to the previous year where I pushed the 2013 Ford Mustang to the limit. Well, my limit at least. I also took a ride with a professional driver around the same track. I would have been left in the dust from the start. Still, I've driven a number of Ford's electric and hybrids and they have a lot of pep especially from a standing start. On the other hand, the driver assist (Fig. 3) wants to slap me with a ruler so I slow down a bit.

The Fusion Energi test drive was silent, slow and smooth. The cars went whispering down the track.

From a rider's perspective, the Fusion Energi PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) is as roomy as its hybrid and all-gas counterparts. The all electric range is 21 miles so the fleet of cars used for the test drive did not need a charge since the track was under a mile and each driver took it around the track twice.

The battery pack is smaller than the dual pack Focus Electric but then the latter has almost four times the range.

Ford's bread and butter are still all gas cars and trucks like the F-150. It is also pushing the envelope with its EcoBoost turbo that bumps up performance when necessary.

Mobile Apps For Electrics

Tracking the charge in the battery is something drivers will need to contend with just like watching the gas gauge. The main difference these days is that the batteries tend to drain much faster hence the limited range and long recharge times. The Ford vehicles are kind enough to remind the driver every time they step out of the card. The ring around the charging socket lights up (Fig. 4). The percentage of the ring that is lit matches the battery charge.

Of course, there is an app for that (Fig. 5). It starts by showing you the battery charge but it does quite a bit more.

The system can help find local charging stations. It can also find local stores and venues and indicate whether the current charge is sufficient for a round trip. It is good to go on green and yellow means you need to go light on the acceleration. Find a place to plug in if it is red.

The app also provides information about your driving. Ford is working on creating an online community where you can share this information if you want braggin rights.

Developer Sahas Katta was wearing this Google Glasses at the Ford event (Fig. 6). Of course he was mobbed with questions and he let many try out his pair.

Check out GlassTesla.com if you get a chance. This is where Sahas first Google Glass app resides. Of course, you need a pair of Google Glasses and a Tesla electric vehicle to really make use of it (Fig. 7). Then again, you need to start somewhere and the use of Google Glasses and electric and PHEV cars is becoming more common.

GlassTesla highlights things to come. You can use voice commands to check status or even unlock the car. Finding the car in a parking lot is trivial. Just follow the directions. More on Google Glass and GlassTesla in the future.

I guess I will just have to wait to pick up a Fusion Energi or Focus Electric when my Prius begins to wear out which isn't anytime soon.

Discuss this Blog Entry 2

on Jul 3, 2013

I wonder if the amount of fossil fuel spent on charging Ford's electric cars is small enough to offset the amount of fossil fuel conventional cars actually use.

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Bill Wong covers Digital, Embedded, Systems and Software topics at Electronic Design. He writes a number of columns, including Lab Bench and alt.embedded, plus Bill's Workbench hands-on column....
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