DEARBORN - Ford embarked on a first-of-its-kind approach to helping customers understand their own personal fuel economy with an app developer challenge providing unprecedented access to in-vehicle data. With more than 20 entrants creating apps to help vehicle owners understand their personal driving habits, Fuelytics, a Cincinnati-based app developer, is taking home the grand prize in the Ford OpenXC Fuel-Efficiency App Challenge.
Fuel economy is one of the top considerations for vehicle purchase. Many elements factor into fuel economy, including driving behavior, climate and terrain. The goal of the challenge is to identify ways to enable drivers to better understand their personal fuel economy.
“This challenge stepped outside of the normal methods of business and sought creative ideas from the open-source development community to tackle an issue we’ve all experienced – understanding personal fuel economy,” said Jim Farley, executive vice president of Ford global marketing, sales and service and Lincoln. “We want drivers to have the tools to understand what fuel economy they can expect in various driving situations, and how they can improve it.”
The competition, announced by Farley in April at the New York International Auto Show, encouraged innovation through Ford OpenXC, an open-source connectivity platform.
Through the advent of smartphone technology, open-source development has surged for Android and iOS platforms. As the car and connectivity worlds converge, Ford is leveraging developer interest in writing open-source applications for smartphones. Increased interest in these developments also means consumers receive more choice through a wide range of applications that help them measure and understand their own personal fuel economy.
An April survey of consumer attitudes conducted by Penn Schoen Berland for Ford affirms the increasing importance of fuel economy:
•Half of all drivers measure their fuel economy every time they fill the tank or have the car serviced
•Most consumers would change the way they drive if they knew it would significantly improve fuel economy: 79 percent would change acceleration, 68 percent would change their speed and 62 percent would choose a different route
•Nearly three out of four drivers said they already make an effort to drive more efficiently
“Ford has a history of offering innovative ways to help consumers drive more fuel efficiently through technologies such as MyFord Mobile and SmartGauge® with EcoGuide,” said Paul Mascarenas, Ford chief technical officer and vice president, Research and Innovation. “Fuelytics, along with the other app developers, used the same principles to develop their data-driven applications, and we’re proud of their efforts.”
Ford-led fuel-saving innovations have been effective in informing consumers of their driving habits. After six months on the road with their Ford plug-in hybrid electric or battery electric vehicle, customers are taking nearly 30 percent of their trips using no gas, compared to the beginning of vehicle ownership when about 20 percent of trips are gas-free.
The OpenXC Fuel-Efficiency App Challenge is more proof Ford is reaching even broader audiences through the creation of data-driven apps that assist the driver. For example, Fuelytics created an application that presents fuel efficiency through a series of easy-to-read gauges drivers can follow on their smartphones. The app ranks how well a driver’s vehicle performs compared with other models of the same year.
Developers used Ford’s OpenXC hardware and software development kit to read a wide array of real-time vehicle data. Understanding the many factors that play into personal fuel economy, including temperature, terrain, traffic conditions and individual driving styles, the apps created provide fun, engaging ways to consume personal fuel-efficiency data through custom dashboards and platforms offering real-time advice.
•Best overall – grand prize ($25,000): Fuelytics helps drivers visualize fuel consumption and other trip data seamlessly in real-time
•Best overall – second prize ($15,000): Eco-Dash introduces a custom dashboard with a new and unique way of looking at fuel efficiency
•Best overall – third prize ($5,000): Dash provides consumers with smart insights into their driving, thereby incentivizing safer, greener driving that reduces costs
•Honorable mention ($3,000): Effective Eco Driving offers several fun mini games that challenge drivers to improve fuel efficiency
•Popular choice ($1,000): Here we go gives real-time tips for improved fuel efficiency
•Personal fuel-efficiency recognition award: Drive Trace Application helps drivers learn, compare and share information about driving styles and thereby optimize fuel usage