BERLIN, Germany – Ford will debut new user interface Smartgauge on the Focus Electric to deliver cutting edge technology that enables owners to monitor, manage and reduce energy consumption, and maximise vehicle range.
Butterflies appear on screen to reward efficient driving and Smartgauge also calculates and displays range based on remaining energy; the driver’s unique vehicle use, across braking and acceleration inputs; and the use of accessories such as climate control and audio systems.
“Smartgauge will help ensure drivers know exactly how much energy they have, how much energy they need – and help them to make that energy go even further,” said Marc Lucas, hybrid and electric vehicle supervisor, Ford of Europe.
“The coaching systems on Focus Electric also help ensure Smartgauge adds to the fun factor of owning a Focus. Efficient driving is rewarded with animated butterflies, but if you’re in a hurry, the butterflies fly elsewhere.”
Smartgauge’s “Budget View” calculates the “Distance to Empty” (DTE) based on the driver’s personal energy consumption. The system displays instantaneous energy consumption alongside an indication of the energy, or budget, required to maintain the DTE, or to reach a destination programmed into the navigation system.
The system encourages more efficient driving, by displaying the energy “Surplus” or “Status” through butterflies on screen, an idea inspired by the “Butterfly Effect” theory – that small actions can drive significant change.
A driver’s personal energy consumption history is matched to his or her individual key, making it personal to each user; and an alternative, more traditional status gauge is also available.
Focus Electric owners will be able to employ “Brake Coach” and “Energy Coach” features to help them drive more efficiently. The “Brake Coach” system was inspired by a chance comment from an electric vehicle enthusiast Ford approached during the research phase of the project. He told Ford engineers that understanding electric vehicles boiled down to one thing – understanding that one pedal uses energy and the other one wastes energy.
“I remember the team just stopped and looked at each other when we heard that,” said Paul Aldighieri, user interface ergonomics engineer, Ford Motor Company. “It was one of those real light-bulb moments. We instantly knew the information we provided on-board the Focus Electric had to help drivers better manage the vehicle’s stored energy resources.”
The Focus Electric’s sophisticated powertrain uses regenerative braking to capture up to 95 percent of kinetic energy normally lost during the braking process. “Brake Coach” encourages gradual braking to help return more energy to the battery.
“Energy Coach” evaluates acceleration, braking and cruising performance and enables drivers to review that performance on a graphical display. Improvements are registered when drivers avoid high cruising speeds and heavy or sudden acceleration and braking.
“Smartgauge is about more than just delivering information, it’s about helping drivers to get the most from their Focus Electric, enhancing the ownership experience and the positive effect they can have on their environment,” added Lucas.
Focus Electric, Ford’s first-ever all-electric passenger vehicle, goes on sale in Europe in 2013.