Ford Hybrid’s EV+ Feature Learns and Automatically Adjusts Powertrain to Deliver More Electric-Only Driving

5 years ago by Inside EVs Staff 6

DEARBORN, Mich., – Ford is taking the performance of its electrified vehicle lineup to a whole new level with EV+, a patent-pending feature that actually helps vehicles learn frequent destinations, and delivers to hybrid drivers what they love – more driving time in electric-only mode.

EV+ is part of SmartGauge® and is a standard feature on the Ford plug-in hybrids, C-MAX Energi and Fusion Energi, along with the hybrid versions of Fusion and C-MAX.

“We know from our research that hybrid drivers want to drive as often as they can in electric-only mode, especially near their home or frequently visited locations,” said Kevin Layden, Ford director of Electrification Programs and Engineering. “EV+ not only delivers that capability, but also demonstrates how Ford puts customer needs and wants above everything else.”

EV+ combines the built-in GPS of Ford SYNC® with proprietary software algorithms developed by Ford engineers to learn frequent destinations.

Once frequent destinations have been learned – such as your home parking location – EV+ adjusts how the electric power stored in the vehicle’s high-voltage battery is used to power the vehicle. If EV+ determines the vehicle is nearing a frequent destination, it has the capability to remain in electric-only mode.

“We already have a GPS unit in every Ford with SYNC, so really it was just a matter of tapping into that the right way,” said Layden. “This is one of the first examples of how we’re looking to make the car smarter, by leveraging on board data to provide features and services that add value to the driving experience.”

EV+ joins 500+ hybrid-specific patents Ford has accumulated in the last 20 years. Patents include everything from the leaves on the cluster screen of SmartGauge and the hands-free liftgate of the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi to an available EV-only mode button that allows customers to access electric power on-demand.

Enhancing performance

EV+ was developed by two Ford employees: Ken Frederick, HEV powertrain calibration engineer, and Matt Smith, product design engineer. They are the authors of the patent application that was recently published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

When engaged, EV+ uses onboard GPS equipment and predictive software algorithms to learn the latitude and longitude of a vehicle and identify locations that are visited on a frequent basis, such as home and work. The feature can be disabled and the data erased at the push of a button.

When the feature identifies frequent destinations, the way electric power is used changes. Specifically, when within a radius of 1/8 mile, or 200 meters, of a frequent stop, the vehicle has increased capability to stay in electric-only mode, the internal combustion engine stays off, and an “EV+” light appears on the dashboard.

“One of Ford’s biggest strengths is the quality of our controls and calibration. We do all of that work in-house and it shows when we deliver a feature like EV+,” saidRob Iorio, Ford Electrified Propulsion Systems Manager. “No other automaker seamlessly integrates global positioning and propulsion system control as we have with EV+.”

Big data, big challenge

Originally, the plan was to develop a way for vehicles to collect and digest vast amounts of information to predict and adjust to different driving demands.

The team quickly discovered that collecting and analyzing the vast amounts of data needed to make such predictions would require an immense hardware and software system – one that would demand too many resources, both in terms of initial development and inside each vehicle.

A breakthrough came, say Smith and Frederick, when they developed a way to reach their goal without the need to collect and store droves of information. Instead, their answer was to engineer a way to analyze incoming GPS information and control distribution of a vehicle’s power based on those data.

“We realized that harnessing data already available was the way we could achieve our goal of improving the entire hybrid vehicle driving experience,” said Frederick. “Once we had access to the data, we applied machine learning principles to predict frequently visited locations that would determine what powertrain controls should be applied to achieve our goal.”

Every new Ford with SYNC has GPS equipment built into the SYNCmodule.

Ford’s SYNC communications and entertainment system enables voice-activated communication through a driver’s mobile phone and interaction with the car’s audio system. Among its many features and options, SYNC provides location-based services, such as turn-by-turn directions, and now shares GPS coordinates with EV+.

Additionally, SYNC uses GPS to relay information about vehicle location to emergency personnel in the event of an accident through 911 Assist® when the feature is properly activated.

6 responses to "Ford Hybrid’s EV+ Feature Learns and Automatically Adjusts Powertrain to Deliver More Electric-Only Driving"

  1. BlindGuy says:

    I have been shopping around for a plug-in vehicle lately to possibly take advantage of the tax credit before the end of the year for a purchase, not a lease. The internet salesperson I spoke to was arrogant and not very knowledgeable about the C Max Energi. He claimed other Dealers were selling these cars for 3-4K over MSRP. The lowest price he would go was MSRP+packages+$950.paint & upholstery protection& oil changes for original owner + $395. For window tint, even if you don’t want it and of course delivery from manufacture+tax+license+registration. I asked if I ordered now with the features I want, do I still have to get the “protection pkg& window tint? He said they build profit into that so yes you do have to get them as well. I asked, what about the internet special price? He said “well normally we would add $2500 to the MSRP, and there are a few cars and a lot of customers that want them. So we can charge more for them”. So I said “have a nice day”.

  2. scottf200 says:

    I’m a Ford fan and I was pretty impressed UNTIL I read this:
    “Specifically, when within a radius of 1/8 mile, or 200 meters, of a frequent stop, the vehicle has increased capability to stay in electric-only mode, the internal combustion engine stays off,…”
    and how short that is. I sort of get it because in the Volt if I’m close at 1 EV miles left and am pulling into the subdivision I will stay at 19-20 MPH where the ICE will stay off even if I hit 0 EV miles.

    Interesting how Ford is able to use the GPS this way. A chevrolet Volt tech guy at the pre-Chicago auto show Volt group said they were not allowed to use the GPS in this way (implying regulations). Obviously it would be nice for things like a predictive mountain mode setting if you destination is show you going there.

    1. Marc Lee says:

      Yeah I was surprised by the 1/8 mile. Too short. I wonder if the system distinguishes between a “frequent stop” and a final destination.

      More often than I would like with the Volt the engine has started up in the last mile or two of a trip. Would be nice to have a way to avoid that. Perhaps instead of complex algorithms the driver could be notified that an engine start is pending and given the option to delay for “x” amount.

  3. MrEnergyCzar says:

    Just make a larger battery like the Volts and you don’t have to play games…

    MrEnergyCzar

  4. Nelson says:

    I’m pretty sure that idea first appeared on a Volt feature wish list in http://gm-volt.com/

    NPNS!
    Volt#671

    1. Marc Lee says:

      Um yeah, if auto companies are not mining that wish list for good ideas, then shame on them. 🙂